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Full text of "Under the deodars"


THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



EX LIBRIS 
RUTH McC. MAITLAND 




UNDER THE DEODARS 




Copyright, l&yy, by H. M. (Jaluweli co. 
" The brute threw up her head and went down with a scream." 



tjje 



ZElje llorbi of 




JtJostton J7eto J?ork 



College 

L&rarj 



4-854- 

U5"5 

(900 



CONTENTS 

PAGB 

THE EDUCATION OF OTIS YEERE ... 7 

AT THE PIT'S MOUTH 45 

A WAYSIDE COMEDY . . . -57 

THE HILL OF ILLUSION 79 

A SECOND-RATE WOMAN . . . .97 

ONLY A SUBALTERN . . . . .131 
IN THE MATTER OF A PRIVATE . . .157 
THE ENLIGHTENMENTS OF PAGETT, M.P. . 175 



1C430C1 



THE EDUCATION OF OTIS YEERE 



THE EDUCATION OF OTIS YEERE 

I 

In the pleasant orchard-closes 

" God bless all our gains," say we; 

But " May God bless all our losses," 
Better suits with our degree. 

The Lost Bower. 

THIS is the history of a failure; but the woman 
who failed said that it might be an instruc- 
tive tale to put into print for the benefit of the 
younger generation. The younger generation 
does not want instruction, being perfectly will- 
ing to instruct if any one will listen to it. None 
the less, here begins the story where every right- 
minded story should begin, that is to say at 
Simla, where all things begin and many come to 
an evil end. 

The mistake was due to a very clever woman 
making a blunder and not retrieving it. Men are 
licensed to stumble, but a clever woman's mistake 
is outside the regular course of Nature and 
Providence; since all good people know that a 
woman is the only infallible thing in this world, 
except Government Paper of the '79 issue, bear- 
9 



IO The Education of Otis Yeere 

ing interest at four and a half per cent. Yet, we 
have to remember that six consecutive days of re- 
hearsing the leading part of The Fallen Angel, at 
the New Gaiety Theatre where the plaster is not 
yet properly dry, might have brought about an 
unhingement of spirits which, again, might have 
led to eccentricities. 

Mrs. Hauksbee came to "The Foundry" to 
tiffin with Mrs. Mallowe, her one bosom friend, 
for she was in no sense "a woman's woman." 
And it was a woman's tiffin, the door shut to all 
the world ; and they both talked chiffons, which 
is French for Mysteries. 

"I've enjoyed an interval of sanity," Mrs. 
Hauksbee announced, after tiffin was over and 
the two were comfortably settled in the little 
writing-room that opened out of Mrs. Mallowe's 
bedroom. 

" My dear girl, what has he done ? " said Mrs. 
Mallowe, sweetly. It is noticeable that ladies of 
a certain age call each other " dear girl," just as 
commissioners of twenty-eight years' standing 
address their equals in the Civil List as "my 
boy." 

"There's no he in the case. Who am I that 
an imaginary man should be always credited to 
me ? Am I an Apache ? " 

"No, dear, but somebody's scalp is generally 
drying at your wigwam-door. Soaking, rather." 



The Education of Otis Yeere II 

This was an allusion to the Hawley Boy, who 
was in the habit of riding all across Simla in the 
Rains, to call on Mrs. Hauksbee. That lady 
laughed. 

"For my sins, the Aide at Tyrconnel last night 
told me off to The Mussuck. Hsh ! Don't laugh. 
One of my most devoted admirers. When the 
duff came some one really ought to teach them 
to make puddings at Tyrconnel The Mussuck 
was at liberty to attend to me." 

"Sweet soul! 1 know his appetite," said Mrs. 
Mallowe. "Did he, oh did he, begin his woo- 
ing?" 

"By a special mercy of Providence, no. He 
explained his importance as a Pillar of the Em- 
pire. I didn't laugh." 

" Lucy, I don't believe you." 

"Ask Captain Sangar; he was on the other 
side. Well, as I was saying, The Mussuck 
dilated." 

"I think I can see him doing it," said Mrs. 
Mallowe, pensively, scratching her fox-terrier's 
ears. 

"I was properly impressed. Most properly. 
I yawned openly. ' Strict supervision, and play 
them off one against the other, ' said The Mussuck, 
shoveling down his ice by tureenfuls, I assure 
you. ' That, Mrs. Hauksbee, is the secret of 
our Government.'" 



12 The Education of Otis Yeere 

Mrs. Mallowe laughed long and merrily. 
" And what did you say ? " 

" Did you ever know me at loss for an answer 
yet? I said: 'So I have observed in my deal- 
ings with you.' The Mussuck swelled with 
pride. He is coming to call on me to-morrow. 
The Hawley Boy is coming too." 

'"Strict supervision and play them off one 
against the other. That, Mrs. Hauksbee, is the 
secret of our Government.' And I dare say if we 
could get to The Mussuck's heart, we should 
find that he considers himself a man or the 
world." 

"As he is of the other two things. I like The 
Mussuck, and I won't have you call him names. 
He amuses me." 

"He has reformed you, too, by what appears. 
Explain the interval of sanity, and hit Tim on the 
nose with the paper-cutter, please. That dog is 
too fond of sugar. Do you take milk in yours ?" 

"No, thanks. Polly, I'm wearied of this life. 
It's hollow." 

"Turn religious, then. I always said that 
Rome would be your fate." 

"Only exchanging half a dozen attaches in red 
for one in black, and if I fasted, the wrinkles 
would come, and never, never go. Has it ever 
struck you, dear, that I'm getting old ? " 

"Thanks for your courtesy. I'll return it 



The Education of Otis Yeere 13 

Ye-es, we are both not exactly how shall I put 
it?" 

" What we have been. ' I feel it in my 
bones,' as Mrs. Crossley says. Polly, I've wasted 
my life." 

"As how?" 

"Never mind how. I feel it. I want to be a 
Power before I die." 

"Be a Power then. You've wits enough for 
anything and beauty ? " 

Mrs. Hauksbee pointed a teaspoon straight at 
her hostess. " Polly, if you heap compliments 
on me like this, I shall cease to believe that you're 
a woman. Tell me how I am to be a Power." 

"Inform The Mussuck that he is the most 
fascinating and slimmest man in Asia, and he'll 
tell you anything and everything you please." 

" Bother The Mussuck! I mean an intellectual 
Power not a gas-power. Polly, I'm going to 
start a salon." 

Mrs. Mallowe turned lazily on the sofa and 
rested her head on her hand. "Hear the words 
of the Preacher, the son of Baruch," she said. 

" Will you talk sensibly ? " 

" I will, dear, for I see that you are going to 
make a mistake." 

" I never made a mistake in my life at least, 
never one that I couldn't explain away afterward." 

"Going to make a mistake/' went on Mrs. 



14 The Education of Otis Yeere 

Mallowe, composedly. " It is impossible to start 
a salon in Simla. A bar would be much more to 
the point." 

" Perhaps, but why ? It seems so easy." 

"Just what makes it so difficult. How many 
clever women are there in Simla ?" 

"Myself and yourself," said Mrs. Hauksbee, 
without a moment's hesitation. 

" Modest woman! Mrs. Feardon would thank 
you for that. And how many clever men ? " 

"Oh er hundreds," said Mrs. Hauksbee, 
vaguely. 

"What a fatal blunder! Not one. They are 
all bespoke by the Government. Take my hus- 
band, for instance. Jack was a clever man, 
though I say so who shouldn't. Government has 
eaten him up. All his ideas and powers of con- 
versation he really used to be a good talker, 
even to his wife, in the old days are taken from 
him by this this kitchen-sink of a Government. 
That's the case with every man up here who is at 
work. I don't suppose a Russian convict under 
the knout is able to amuse the rest of his gang; 
and all our men-folk here are gilded convicts." 

" But there are scores " 

" I know what you're going to say. Scores of 
idle men up on leave. I admit it, but they are all 
of two objectionable sets. The Civilian who'd 
be delightful if he had the military man's knowl- 



The Education of Otis Yeere 15 

edge of the world and style, and the military man 
who'd be adorable if he had the Civilian's cul- 
ture." 

"Detestable word! Have Civilians culchaw ? 
I never studied the breed deeply." 

"Don't make fun of Jack's service. Yes. 
They're like the teapoys in the Lakka Bazar 
good material but not polished. They can't help 
themselves, poor dears. A Civilian only begins 
to be tolerable after he has knocked about the 
world for fifteen years." 

" And a military man ? " 

" When he has had the same amount of serv- 
ice. The young of both species are horrible. 
You would have scores of them in your salon." 

"I would not!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, fiercely. 
" I would tell the bearer to darwa^a band them. 
I'd put their own colonels and commissioners at 
the door to turn them away. I'd give them to 
the Topsham girl to play with." 

"The Topsham girl would be grateful for the 
gift. But to go back to the salon. Allowing 
that you had gathered all your men and women 
together, what would you do with them ? Make 
them talk ? They would all with one accord be- 
gin to flirt. Your salon would become a glorified 
Peliti's a 'Scandal Point' by lamp-light." 

"There's a certain amount of wisdom in that 
view." 



1 6 The Education of Otis Yeere 

"There's all the wisdom in the world in it. 
Surely, twelve Simla seasons ought to have taught 
you that you can't focus anything in India; and a 
salon, to be any good at all, must be permanent. 
In two seasons your roomful would be scattered 
all over Asia. We are only little bits of dirt on 
the hillsides here one day and blown down the 
hhud the next. We have lost the art of talking 
at least our men have. We have no cohe- 
sion " 

"George Eliot in the flesh,'* interpolated Mrs. 
Hauksbee, wickedly. 

"And collectively, my dear scoffer, we, men 
and women alike, have no influence. Come into 
the veranda and look at the Mall! " 

The two looked down on the now rapidly fill- 
ing road, for all Simla was abroad to steal a stroll 
between a shower and a fog. 

" How do you propose to fix that river ? Look! 
There's The Mussuck head of goodness knows 
what. He is a power in the land, though he does 
eat like a costermonger. There's Colonel Blone, 
and General Grucher, and Sir Dugald Delane, and 
Sir Henry Haughton, and Mr. Jellalatty. All 
Heads of Departments, and all powerful." 

"And all my fervent admirers," said Mrs. 
Hauksbee, piously. "Sir Henry Haughton raves 
about me. But go on/' 

41 One by one, these men are worth something, 



The Education of Otis Yeere 17 

Collectively, they're just a mob of Anglo-Indians. 
Who cares for what Anglo-Indians say? Your 
salon won't weld the Departments together and 
make you mistress of India, dear. And these 
creatures won't talk administrative 'shop' in a 
crowd your salon because they are so afraid of 
the men in the lower ranks overhearing it. They 
have forgotten what of Literature and Art they 
ever knew, and the women " 

"Can't talk about anything except the last 
Gymkhana, or the sins of their last nurse. I was 
calling on Mrs. Derwills this morning." 

" You admit that ? They can talk to the sub- 
alterns though, and the subalterns can talk to 
them. Your salon would suit their views admir- 
ably, if you respected the religious prejudices of 
the country and provided plenty of kala juggahs." 

"Plenty of kala juggahs. Oh my poor little 
idea ! Kala juggahs in a salon ! But who made 
you so awfully clever ? " 

" Perhaps I've tried myself; or perhaps I know 
a woman who has. I have preached and ex- 
pounded the whole matter and the conclusion 
thereof " 

"You needn't go on. 'Is Vanity.' Polly, I 
thank you. These vermin" Mrs. Hauksbee 
waved her hand from the veranda to two men in 
the crowd below who had raised their hats to her 
"these vermin shall not rejoice in a new Scan- 



1 8 The Education of Otis Yeere 

dal Point or an extra Peliti's. I will abandon the 
notion of a salon. It did seem so tempting, 
though. But what shall I do ? I must do some- 
thing." 

" Why ? Are not Abana and Pharphar " 

"Jack has made you nearly as bad as himself! 
I want to, of course. I'm tired of everything 
and everybody, from a moonlight picnic at See- 
pee to the blandishments of The Mussuck." 

"Yes that comes, too, sooner or later. Have 
you nerve enough to make your bow yet ?" 

Mrs. Hauksbee's mouth shut grimly. Then she 
laughed. "I think I see myself doing it. Big 
pink placards on the Mall : ' Mrs. Hauksbee ! 
Positively her last appearance on any stage! This 
is to give notice!' No more dances; no more 
rides; no more luncheons; no more theatricals 
with supper to follow; no more sparring with 
one's dearest, dearest friend; no more fencing 
with an inconvenient man who hasn't wit enough 
to clothe what he's pleased to call his sentiments 
in passable speech; no more parading of The 
Mussuck while Mrs. Tarkass calls all round Simla, 
spreading horrible stories about me ! No more of 
anything that is thoroughly wearying, abominable 
and detestable, but, all the same, makes life 
worth the having. Yes! I see it all! Don't in- 
terrupt, Polly, I'm inspired. A mauve and white 
striped ' cloud ' round my excellent shoulders, a 



The Education of Otis Yeere 19 

seat in the fifth row of the Gaiety, and both 
horses sold. Delightful vision! A comfortable 
armchair, situated in three different draughts, at 
every ballroom; and nice, large, sensible shoes 
for all the couples to stumble over as they go into 
the veranda! Then at supper. Can't you imag- 
ine the scene? The greedy mob gone away. 
Reluctant subaltern, pink all over like a newly- 
powdered baby, they really ought to tan sub- 
alterns before they are exported, Polly sent back 
by the hostess to do his duty. Slouches up to 
me across the room, tugging at a glove two sizes 
too large for him I hate a man who wears 
gloves like overcoats and trying to look as if 
he'd thought of it from the first. ' May I ah- 
have the pleasure 'f takin' you 'nt' supper?' 
Then I get up with a hungry smile. Just like 
this." 

" Lucy, how can you be so absurd ?" 
" And sweep out on his arm. So ! After sup- 
per I shall go away early, you know, because I 
shall be afraid of catching cold. No one will 
look for my 'rickshaw. Mine, so please you ! I 
shall stand, always with that mauve and white 
' cloud ' over my head, while the wet soaks into 
my dear, old, venerable feet and Tom swears and 
shouts for the mem-sahib's gharri. Then home 
to bed at half-past eleven ! Truly excellent life 
helped out by the visits of the Padri, just fresh 



2O The Education of Otis Yeere 

from burying somebody down below there." She 
pointed through the pines, toward the Cemetery, 
and continued with vigorous dramatic gesture 

" Listen! I see it all down, down even to the 
stays! Such stays! Six-eight a pair, Polly, with 
red flannel or list is it ? that they put into the 
tops of those fearful things. I can draw you a 
picture of them." 

" Lucy, for Heaven's sake, don't go waving 
your arms about in that idiotic manner! Recol- 
lect, every one can see you from the Mall." 

"Let them see! They'll think I am rehearsing 
for The Fallen Angel. Look ! There's The Mus- 
suck. How badly he rides. There!" 

She blew a kiss to the venerable Indian admin- 
istrator with infinite grace. 

" Now," she continued, " he'll be chaffed about 
that at the Club in the delicate manner those 
brutes of men affect, and the Hawley Boy will 
tell me all about it softening the details for fear 
of shocking me. That boy is too good to live, 
Polly. I've serious thoughts of recommending 
him to throw up his Commission and go into the 
Church. In his present frame of mind he would 
obey me. Happy, happy child! 7 ' 

"Never again," said Mrs. Mallowe, with an 
affectation of indignation, " shall you tiffin here ! 
' Lucindy, your behavior is scand'lus.' " 

"All your fault," retorted Mrs. Hauksbee, '"for 



The Education of Otis Yeere 21 

suggesting such a thing as my abdication. No! 
Jamais-nevairel I will act, dance, ride, frivol, 
talk scandal, dine out, and appropriate the legiti- 
mate captives of any woman I choose, until I 
d-r-r-rop, or a better woman than I puts me to 
shame before all Simla, and it's dust and ashes 
in my mouth while I'm doing it! " 

She swept into the drawing-room. Mrs. Mal- 
lowe followed and put an arm round her waist. 

"I'm not!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, defiantly, rum- 
maging for her handkerchief. " I've been dining 
out the last ten nights, and rehearsing in the 
afternoon. You'd be tired yourself. It's only 
because I'm tired." 

Mrs. Mallowe did not offer Mrs. Hauksbee any 
pity or ask her to lie down, but gave her another 
cup of tea, and went on with the talk. 

" I've been through that too, dear," she said. 

"I remember," said Mrs. Hauksbee, a gleam of 
fun on her face. " In '84, wasn't it ? You went 
out a great deal less next season." 

Mrs. Mallowe smiled in a superior and Sphinx- 
like fashion. 

" I became an Influence," said she. 

"Good gracious, child, you didn't join the 
Theosophists and kiss Buddha's big toe, did you ? 
I tried to get into their set once, but they cast me 
out for a sceptic without a chance of improving 
my poor little mind, too." 



22 The Education of Otis Yeere 

"No, I didn't Theosophilander. Jack says" 

"Never mind Jack. What a husband says is 
known before. What did you do ? " 

"I made a lasting impression." 

" So have I for four months. But that didn't 
console me in the least. I hated the man. Will 
you stop smiling in that inscrutable way and tell 
me what you mean ? " 

Mrs. Mallowe told 

****** 

"And you mean to say that it is abso- 
lutely Platonic on both sides ? " 

"Absolutely, or I should never have taken it 
up." 

"And his last promotion was due to you?" 

Mrs. Mallowe nodded. 

"And you warned him against the Topsham 
girl?" 

Another nod. 

"And told him of Sir Dugald Delane's private 
memo about him ? " 

A third nod. 



"What a question to ask a woman! Because 
it amused me at first. I am proud of my prop- 
erty now. If I live, he shall continue to be suc- 
cessful. Yes, I will put him upon the straight 
road to Knighthood, and everything else that a 
man values. The rest depends upon himself." 



The Education of Otis Yeere 23 

" Polly, you are a most extraordinary woman." 

"Not in the least. I'm concentrated, that's all. 
You diffuse yourself, dear; and though all Simla 
knows your skill in managing a team " 

" Can't you choose a prettier word ?" 

" Team, of half a dozen, from The Mussuck to 
the Hawley Boy, you gain nothing by it. Not 
even amusement." 

"And you?" 

"Try my recipe. Take a man, not a boy, 
mind, but an almost mature, unattached man, 
and be his guide, philosopher, and friend. You'll 
find it the most interesting occupation that you 
ever embarked on. It can be done you needn't 
look like that because I've done it." 

" There's an element of risk about it that makes 
the notion attractive. I'll get such a man and 
say to him, ' Now, understand that there must be 
no flirtation. Do exactly what I tell you, profit 
by my instruction and counsels, and all will yet 
be well.' Is that the idea ?" 

"More or less," said Mrs. Mallowe, with an 
unfathomable smile. "But be sure he under- 
stands." 



24 The Education of Otis Yeere 



II 

Dribble-dribble trickle-trickle 

What a lot of raw dust ! 
My dollie's had an accident 

And out came all the sawdust ! 

Nursery Rhyme. 

So Mrs. Hauksbee, in "The Foundry" which 
overlooks Simla Mall, sat at the feet of Mrs. 
Mallowe and gathered wisdom. The end of the 
Conference was the Great Idea upon which Mrs. 
Hauksbee so plumed herself. 

"I warn you," said Mrs. Mallowe, beginning 
to repent of her suggestion, "that the matter is 
not half so easy as it looks. Any woman even 
the Topsham girl can catch a man, but very, 
very few know how to manage him when 
caught." 

"My child," was the answer, "I've been a 
female St. Simon Stylites looking down upon 
men for these these years past. Ask The Mus- 
suck whether I can manage them." 

Mrs. Hauksbee departed humming, "I'll go to 
him and say to him in manner 'most ironical." 
Mrs. Mallowe laughed to herself. Then she grew 
suddenly sober. " I wonder whether I've done 
well in advising that amusement? Lucy's a 
clever woman, but a thought too careless." 



The Education of Otis Yeere 25 

A week later, the two met at a Monday Pop. 
"Well?" said Mrs. Mallowe. 

"I've caught him! "said Mrs. Hauksbee; her 
eyes were dancing with merriment. 

" Who is it, mad woman ? I'm sorry I ever 
spoke to you about it." 

" Look between the pillars. In the third row; 
fourth from the end. You can see his face now. 
Look!" 

" Otis Yeere ! Of all the improbable and im- 
possible people! I don't believe you." 

"Hsh! Wait till Mrs. Tarkass begins mur- 
dering Milton Wellings; and I'll tell you all about 
it. S-s-ssf That woman's voice always re- 
minds me of an Underground train coming into 
Earl's Court with the breaks on. Now listen. 
It is really Otis Yeere." 

"So I see, but does it follow that he is your 
property!" 

"He is! By right of trove. I found him, 
lonely and unbefriended, the very next night 
after our talk, at the Dugald Delane's burra- 
hhana. I liked his eyes, and I talked to him. 
Next day he called. Next day we went for a 
ride together, and to-day he's tied to my 'rick- 
5&tfzy-wheels hand and foot. You'll see when 
the concert's over. He doesn't know I'm here 
yet." 

"Thank goodness you haven't chosen a boy. 



26 The Education of Otis Yeere 

What are you going to do with him, assuming 
that you've got him ? " 

" Assuming, indeed! Does a woman do / 
ever make a mistake in that sort of thing? 
First " Mrs. Hauksbee ticked off the items osten- 
tatiously on her little gloved fingers " First, my 
dear, I shall dress him properly. At present his 
raiment is a disgrace, and he wears a dress- 
shirt like a crumpled sheet of the Pioneer. 
Secondly, after I have made him presentable, I 
shall form his manners his morals are above re- 
proach." 

" You seem to have discovered a great deal 
about him considering the shortness of your ac- 
quaintance." 

"Surely you ought to know that the first proof 
a man gives of his interest in a woman is by talk- 
ing to her about his own sweet self. If the 
woman listens without yawning, he begins to 
like her. If she flatters the animal's vanity, he 
ends by adoring her." 

"In some cases." 

" Never mind the exceptions. I know which 
one you are thinking of. Thirdly, and lastly, 
after he is polished and made pretty, I shall, as 
you said, be his guide, philosopher, and friend, 
and he shall become a success as great a success 
as your friend. I always wondered how that 
man got on. Did The Mussuck come to you 



The Education of Otis Yeere 27 

with the Civil List and, dropping on one knee 
no, two knees, d la Gibbon hand it to you and 
say, 'Adorable angel, choose your friend's ap- 
pointment'?" 

" Lucy, your long experiences of the Military 
Department have demoralized you. One doesn't 
do that sort of thing on the Civil Side." 

"No disrespect meant to Jack's Service, rny 
dear. I only asked for information. Give me 
three months, and see what changes I shall work 
in my prey." 

" Go your own way since you must. But I'm 
sorry that I was weak enough to suggest the 
amusement." 

" ' I am all discretion, and may be trusted to 
an in-fin-ite extent,' " quoted Mrs. Hauksbee from 
The Fallen Angel; and the conversation ceased 
with Mrs. Tarkass's last, long-drawn war- 
whoop. 

Her bitterest enemies and she had many 
could hardly accuse Mrs. Hauksbee of wasting 
her time. Otis Yeere was one of those wander- 
ing "dumb" characters, foredoomed through 
life to be nobody's property. Ten years in Her 
Majesty's Bengal Civil Service, spent, for the most 
part, in undesirable Districts, had given him 
little to be proud of, and nothing to bring confi- 
dence. Old enough to have lost the first fine 
careless rapture that showers on the immature 



28 The Education of Otis Yeere 

'Stunt imaginary Commissionerships and Stars, 
and sends him into the collar with coltish earnest- 
ness and abandon ; too young to be yet able to 
look back upon the progress he had made, and 
thank Providence that under the conditions of the 
day he had corns even so far, he stood upon the 
dead-centre of his career. And when a man stands 
still, he feels the slightest impulse from without. 
Fortune had ruled that Otis Yeere should be, for 
the first part of his service, one of the rank and 
file who are ground up in the wheels of the Ad- 
ministration; losing heart and soul, and mind 
and strength, in the process. Until steam re- 
places manual power in the working of the Em- 
pire, there must always be this percentage 
must always be the men who are used up, 
expended, in the mere mechanical routine. For 
these promotion is far off and the mill-grind of 
every day very instant. The Secretariats know 
them only by name; they are not the picked men 
of the Districts with Divisions and Collectorates 
awaiting them. They are simply the rank and 
file the food for fever sharing with the ryot 
and the plough-bullock the honor of being the 
plinth on which the State rests. The older ones 
have lost their aspirations ; the younger are put- 
ting theirs aside with a sigh. Both learn to en- 
dure patiently until the end of the day. Twelve 
years in the rank and file, men say, will sap the 



The Education of Otis Yeere 29 

hearts of the bravest and dull the wits of the 
most keen. 

Out of this life Otis Yeere had fled for a few 
months ; drifting, in the hope of a little mascu- 
line society, into Simla. When his leave was 
over he would return to his swampy, sour-green, 
under-manned Bengal district; to the native As- 
sistant, the native Doctor, the native Magistrate, 
the steaming, sweltering Station, the ill-kempt 
City, and the undisguised insolence of the 
Municipality that babbled away the lives of men. 
Life was cheap, however. The soil spawned 
humanity, as ,it bred frogs in the Rains, and the 
gap of the sickness of one season was filled to 
overflowing by the fecundity of the next. Otis 
was unfeignedly thankful to lay down his work 
for a little while and escape from the seething, 
whining, weakly hive, impotent to help itself, 
but strong in its power to cripple, thwart, and 
annoy the sunken-eyed man, who, by official 
irony, was said to be " in charge " of it. 

"I knew there were women-dowdies in Ben- 
gal. They come up here sometimes. But I 
didn't know that there were men-dowds, too." 

Then, for the first time, it occurred to Otis 
Yeere that his clothes wore the mark of the ages. 
It will be seen that his friendship with Mrs. 
Hauksbee had made great strides. 



3O The Education of Otis Yeere 

As that lady truthfully says, a man is never so 
happy as when he is talking about himself. 
From Otis Yeere's lips Mrs. Hauksbee, before 
long, learned everything that she wished to know 
about the subject of her experiment: learned what 
manner of life he had led in what she vaguely 
called "those awful cholera districts"; learned, 
too, but this knowledge came later, what manner 
of life he had purposed to lead and what dreams 
he had dreamed in the year of grace '77, before 
the reality had knocked the heart out of him. 
Very pleasant are the shady bridle-paths round 
Prospect Hill for the telling of such confidences. 

"Not yet," said Mrs. Hauksbee to Mrs. Mal- 
lowe. "Not yet. I must wait until the man is 
properly dressed, at least. Great Heavens, is it 
possible that he doesn't know what an honor it 
is to be taken up by Me I " 

Mrs. Hauksbee did not reckon false modesty 
as one of her failings. 

"Always with Mrs. Hauksbee!" murmured 
Mrs. Mallowe, with her sweetest smile, to Otis. 
" Oh you men, you men! Here are our Punjabis 
growling because you've monopolized the nicest 
woman in Simla. They'll tear you to pieces on 
the Mall, some day, Mr. Yeere." 

Mrs. Mallowe rattled down-hill, having satis- 
fied herself, by a glance through the fringe of her 
sunshade, of the effect of her words. 



The Education of Otis Yeere 31 

The shot went home. Of a surety Otis Yeere 
was somebody in this bewildering whirl of 
Simla had monopolized tho nicest woman in it 
and the Punjabis were growling. The notion 
justified a mild glow of vanity. He had never 
looked upon his acquaintance with Mrs. Hauks- 
bee as a matter fo r general interest. 

The knowledge of envy was a pleasant feeling 
to the man of no account. It was intensified 
later in the day when a luncher at the Club said, 
spitefully, " Well, for a debilitated Ditcher, 
Yeere, you are going it. Hasn't any kind friend 
told you that she's the most dangerous woman in 
Simla?" 

Yeere chuckled and passed out. When, oh 
when, would his new clothes be ready? He 
descended into the Mall to inquire; and Mrs. 
Hauksbee, coming over the Church Ridge in her 
'rickshaw, looked down upon him approvingly. 
"He's learning to carry himself as if he were a 
man, instead of a piece of furniture, and," she 
screwed up her eyes to see the better through the 
sunlight "he is a man when he holds himself 
like that. Oh blessed Conceit, what should we 
be without you ? " 

With the new clothes came a new stock of 
self-confidence. Otis Yeere discovered that he 
could enter a room without breaking into a gentle 
perspiration could cross one, even to talk tc 



yi The Education of Otis Yeere 

Mrs. Hauksbee, as though rooms were meant to 
be crossed. He was for the first time in nine 
years proud of himself, and contented with his 
life, satisfied with his new clothes, and rejoicing 
in the friendship of Mrs. Hauksbee. 

" Conceit is what the poor fellow wants," she 
said in confidence to Mrs. Mallowe. " I believe 
they must use Civilians to plough the fields with 
in Lower Bengal. You see I have to begin from 
the very beginning haven't 1 ? But you'll admit, 
won't you, dear, that he is immensely improved 
since I took him in hand. Only give me a little 
more time and he won't know himself." 

Indeed, Yeere was rapidly beginning to forget 
what he had been. One of his own rank and file 
put the matter brutally when he asked Yeere, in 
reference to nothing, " And who has been making 
you a Member of Council, lately ? You carry the 
side of half a dozen of 'em." 

"I I'm awfly sorry. I didn't mean it, you 
know," said Yeere, apologetically. 

"There'll be no holding you," continued the 
old stager, grimly. "Climb down, Otis climb 
down, and get all that beastly affectation knocked 
out of you with fever ! Three thousand a month 
wouldn't support it." 

Yeere repeated the incident to Mrs. Hauksbee. 
He had come to look upon her as his Mother 
Confessor. 



The Education of Otis Yeere 33 

"And you apologized!" she said. "Oh, shameJ 
I hate a man who apologizes. Never apologize 
for what your friend called 'side.' Never! It's 
a man's business to be insolent and overbearing 
until he meets with a stronger. Now, you bad 
boy, listen to me." 

Simply and straightforwardly, as the 'rickshaw 
loitered round Jakko, Mrs. Hauksbee preached to 
Otis Yeere the Great Gospel of Conceit, illustrat- 
ing it with living pictures encountered during 
their Sunday afternoon stroll. 

" Good gracious! " she ended, with the personal 
argument, "you'll apologize next for being my 
attach? ? " 

"Never!" said Otis Yeere. "That's another 
thing altogether. I shall always be " 

"What's coming?" thought Mrs. Hauksbee. 

" Proud of that," said Otis. 

"Safe for the present," she said to herself. 

"But I'm afraid I have grown conceited! 
Like Jeshurun, you know. When he waxed fat, 
then he kicked. It's the having no worry on one's 
mind and the Hill air, I suppose." 

"Hill air, indeed!" said Mrs. Hauksbee to her- 
self. " He'd have been hiding in the Club till the 
last day of his leave, if I hadn't discovered him." 
And aloud 

"Why shouldn't you be? You have every 
right to." 



34 The Education of Otis Yeere 

"I! Why?" 

"Oh, hundreds of things. I'm not going to 
waste this lovely afternoon by explaining; but I 
know you have. What was that heap of manu- 
script you showed me about the grammar of the 
aboriginal what's their names ? " 

" Gullals. A piece of nonsense. I've far too 
much work to do to bother over Gullals now. 
You should see my District. Come down with 
your husband some day and I'll show you round. 
Such a lovely place in the Rains! A sheet of 
water with the railway-embankment and the 
snakes sticking out, and, in the summer, green 
flies and green squash. The people would die 
of fear if you shook a dogwhip at 'em. But they 
know you're forbidden to do that, so they con- 
spire to make your life a burden to you. My 
District's worked by some man at Darjiling, on 
the strength of a native pleader's false reports. 
Oh, it's a heavenly place! " 

Otis Yeere laughed bitterly. 

" There's not the least necessity that you should 
stay in it. Why do you ? " 

" Because I must. How'm I to get out of it ? " 

"How! In a hundred and' fifty ways. If 
there weren't so many people on the road, I'd like 
to box your ears. Ask, my dear boy, ask! 
Look! There is young Hexarly with six years' 
service and half your talents. He asked for what 



The Education of Otis Yeere 35 

he wanted, and he got it. See, down by the 
Convent! There's McArthurson who has come 
to his present position by asking sheer, down- 
right asking after he had pushed himself out of 
the rank and file. One man is as good as an- 
other in your service believe me. I've seen 
Simla for more seasons than I care to think about. 
Do you suppose men are chosen for appoint- 
ments because of their special fitness beforehand ? 
You have all passed a high test what do you 
call it? in the beginning, and, except for the 
few who have gone altogether to the bad, you 
can all work hard. Asking does the rest. Call 
it cheek, call it insolence, call it anything you 
like, but ash! Men argue yes, I know what 
men say that a man, by the mere audacity of his 
request, must have some good in him. A weak 
man doesn't say: 'Give me this and that.' He 
whines: 'Why haven't I been given this and 
that ? ' If you were in the Army, I should say 
learn to spin plates or play a tambourine with 
your toes. As it is ask! You belong to a 
Service that ought to be able to command the 
Channel Fleet, or set a leg at twenty minutes' 
notice, and yet you hesitate over asking to escape 
from a squashy green district where you admit 
you are not master. Drop the Bengal Govern- 
ment altogether. Even Darjiling is a little out-of- 
the-way hole. I was there once, and the rents 



36 The Education of Otis Yeere 

were extortionate. Assert yourself. Get the 
Government of India to take you over. Try to 
get on the Frontier, where every man has a grand 
chance if he can trust himself. Go somewhere! 
Do something! You have twice the wits and 
three times the presence of the men up here, and, 
and" Mrs. Hauksbee paused for breath; then 
continued "and in any way you look at it, you 
ought to. You who could go so far! " 

" I don't know," said Yeere, rather taken aback 
by the unexpected eloquence. "I haven't such 
a good opinion of myself." 

It was not strictly Platonic, but it was Policy. 
Mrs. Hauksbee laid her hand lightly upon the un- 
gloved paw that rested on the turned-backed 
'rickshaw hood, and, looking the man full in the 
face, said tenderly, almost too tenderly, "/ be- 
lieve in you if you mistrust yourself. Is that 
enough, my friend ? " 

"It is enough," answered Otis, very solemnly. 

He was silent for a long time, redreaming the 
dreams that he had dreamed eight years ago, but 
through them all ran, as sheet-lightning through 
golden cloud, the light of Mrs, Hauksbee's violet 
eyes. 

Curious and impenetrable are the mazes of 
Simla life the only existence in this desolate 
land worth the living. Gradually it went abroad 
among men and women, in the pauses between 



The Education of Otis Yeere yj 

dance, play and Gymkhana, that Otis Yeere, the 
man with the newly-lit light of self-confidence 
in his eyes, had "done something decent" in the 
wilds whence he came. He had brought an 
erring Municipality to reason, appropriated the 
funds on his own responsibility, and saved the 
lives of hundreds. He knew more about the 
Gullals than any living man. Had a vast knowl- 
edge of the aboriginal tribes; 'was, in spite of 
his juniority, the greatest authority on the abo- 
riginal Gullals. No one quite knew who or 
what the Gullals were till The Mussuck, who 
had been calling on Mrs. Hauksbee, and prided 
himself upon picking people's brains, explained 
they were a tribe of ferocious hillmen, some- 
where near Sikkim, whose friendship even the 
Great Indian Empire would find it worth her 
while to secure. Now we know that Otis Yeere 
had showed Mrs. Hauksbee his MS. notes of six 
years' standing on these same Gullals. He had 
told her, too, how, sick and shaken with the 
fever their negligence had bred, crippled by the 
loss of his pet clerk, and savagely angry at the 
desolation in his charge, he had once damned the 
collective eyes of his "intelligent local board" 
for a set of haram^adas. Which act of " brutal 
and tyrannous oppression" won him a Repri- 
mand Royal from the Bengal Government; but 
in the anecdote as amended for Northern con- 



38 The Education of Otis Yeere 

sumption we find no record of this. Hence we 
are forced to conclude that Mrs. Hauksbee edited 
his reminiscences before sowing them in idle 
ears, ready, as she well knew, to exaggerate good 
or evil. And Otis Yeere bore himself as befitted 
the hero of many tales. 

"You can talk to me when you don't fall into 
a brown study. Talk now, and talk your bright- 
est and best," said Mrs. Hauksbee. 

Otis needed no spur. Look to a man who has 
the counsel of a woman of or above the world to 
back him. So long as he keeps his head, he can 
meet both sexes on equal ground an advantage 
never intended by Providence, who fashioned 
Man on one day and Woman on another, in sign 
that neither should know more than a very little 
of the other's life. Such a man goes far, or, the 
counsel being withdrawn, collapses suddenly 
while his world seeks the reason. 

Generalled by Mrs. Hauksbee, who, again, had 
all Mrs. Mallowe's wisdom at her disposal, proud 
of himself and, in the end, believing in himself 
because he was believed in, Otis Yeere stood 
ready for any fortune that might befall, certain 
that it would be good. He would fight for his 
own hand, and intended that this second struggle 
should lead to better issue than the first helpless 
surrender of the bewildered 'Stunt. 

What might have happened, it is impossible to 



The Education of Otis Yeere 39 

say. This lamentable thing befell, bred directly 
by a statement of Mrs. Hauksbee that she would 
spend the next season in Darjiling. 

"Are you certain of that ?" said Otis Yeere. 

" Quite. We're writing about a house now." 

Otis Yeere "stopped dead," as Mrs. Hauksbee 
put it in discussing the relapse with Mrs. Mal- 
lowe. 

"He has behaved," she said, angrily, "just 
like Captain Kerrington's pony only Otis is a 
donkey at the last Gymkhana. Planted his 
forefeet and refused to go on another step. 
Polly, my man's going to disappoint me. What 
shall I do?" 

As a rule, Mrs. Mallowe does not approve of 
staring, but on this occasion she opened her eyes 
to the utmost. 

" You have managed cleverly so far," she said. 
"Speak to him, and ask him what he means." 

"I will at to-night's dance." 

"No o, not at a dance," said Mrs. Mallowe, 
cautiously. " Men are never themselves quite at 
dances. Better wait till to-morrow morning." 

" Nonsense. If he's going to 'vert in this in- 
sane way, there isn't a day to lose. Are you go- 
ing ? No ? Then sit up for me, there's a dear. 
I shan't stay longer than supper under any cir- 
cumstances." 

Mrs. Mallowe waited through the evening, look- 



4O The Education of Otis Yeere 

ing long and earnestly into the fire, and sometimes 
smiling to herself. 

****** 

"Oh! oh! oh! The man's an idiot! A rav- 
ing, positive idiot! I'm sorry I ever saw him!" 

Mrs. Hauksbee burst into Mrs. Mallowe's house, 
at midnight, almost in tears. 

"What in the world has happened?" said 
Mrs. Mallowe, but her eyes showed that she had 
guessed an answer. 

"Happened! Everything has happened! He 
was there. I went to him and said, ' Now, what 
does this nonsense mean?' Don't laugh, dear, I 
can't bear it. But you know what I mean I said. 
Then it was a square, and I sat it out with him 
and wanted an explanation, and he said Oh! I 
haven't patience with such idiots! You know 
what I said about going to Darjiling next year? 
It doesn't matter to me where \ go. I'd have 
changed the Station and lost the rent to have 
saved this. He said, in so many words, that he 
wasn't going to try to work up any more, be- 
cause because he would be shifted into a prov- 
ince away from Darjiling, and his own District, 
where these creatures are, is within a day's jour- 
ney" 

"Ah hh!" said Mrs. Mallowe, in a tone of 
one who has successfully tracked an obscure 
word through a large dictionary. 



The Education of Otis Yeere 41 

" Did you ever hear of anything so mad so 
absurd? And he had the ball at his feet. He 
had only to kick it! I would have made him 
anything! Anything in the wide world. He 
could have gone to the world's end. I would 
have helped him. 1 made him, didn't I, Polly? 
Didn't I create that man ? Doesn't he owe every- 
thing to me? And to reward me, just when 
everything was nicely arranged, by this lunacy 
that spoiled everything! " 

"Very few men understand your devotion 
thoroughly." 

"Oh, Polly, don't laugh at me! I give men 
up from this hour. I could have killed him then 
and there. What right had this man this Thing 
I had picked out of his filthy paddy-fields to 
make love to me?" 

"He did that, did he?" 

"He did. I don't remember half he said, I 
was so angry. Oh, but such a funny thing hap- 
pened! I can't help laughing at it now, though 
I felt nearly ready to cry with rage. He raved 
and I stormed I'm afraid we must have made 
an awful noise \n our kala juggah. Protect my 
character, dear, if it's all over Simla by to-mor- 
row and then he bobbed forward in the middle 
of this insanity I firmly believe the man's de- 
mented and kissed me! " 

"Morals above reproach," purred Mrs. Mallowe. 



42 The Education of Otis Yeert 

" So they were so they are! It was the most 
absurd kiss. I don't believe he'd ever kissed a 
woman in his life before. I threw my head 
back, and it was a sort of slidy, pecking dab, 
just on the end of the chin here." Mrs. Hauks- 
bee tapped her masculine little chin with her fan. 
"Then, of course, I was furiously angry, and 
told him that he was no gentleman, and I was 
sorry I'd ever met him, and so on. He was 
crushed so easily that I couldn't be -very angry. 
Then I came away straight to you." 

"Was this before or after supper?" 

"Oh! before oceans before. Isn't it perfectly 
disgusting ? " 

"Let me think. I withhold judgment till to- 
morrow. Morning brings counsel." 

But morning brought only a servant with a 
dainty bouquet of Annandale roses for Mrs. 
Hauksbee to wear at the dance at Viceregal 
Lodge that night." 

"He doesn't seem to be very penitent," said 
Mrs. Mallowe. "What's the billet-doux in the 
centre ? " 

Mrs. Hauksbee opened the neatly folded note, 
another accomplishment that she had taught 
Otis, read it, and groaned tragically. 

"Last wreck of a feeble intellect! Poetry! Is 
it his own, do you think ? Oh, that I ever built 
my hopes on such a maudlin idiot! " 



The Education of Otis Yeere 43 

"No. It's a quotation from Mrs. Browning, 
and, in view of the facts of the case, as Jack 
says, uncommonly well chosen. Listen 

" ' Sweet thou hast trod on a heart, 

Pass ! There's a world full of men; 
And women as fair as thou art, 
Must do such things now and then. 

" Thou only hast stepped unaware 

Malice not one can impute ; 
And why should a heart have been there, 
In the way of a fair woman's foot ? " ' 

"I didn't I didn't I didn't!" said Mrs. 
Hauksbee, angrily, her eyes filling with tears; 
" there was no malice at all. Oh, it's too vexa- 
tious!" 

"You've misunderstood the compliment," said 
Mrs. Mallowe. " He clears you completely and 
ahem I should think by this, that he has 
cleared completely too. My experience of men 
is that when they begin to quote poetry, they are 
going to flit. Like swans singing before they 
die, you know." 

" Polly, you take my sorrows in a most unfeel- 
ing way." 

"Do I? Is it so terrible? If he's hurt your 
vanity, I should say that you've done a certain 
amount of damage to his heart." 

"Oh, you never can tell about a man!" said 
Mrs. Hauksbee. 



AT THE PIT'S MOUTH 



AT THE PIT'S MOUTH 

Men say it was a stolen tide 

The Lord that sent it he knows all, 

But in mine ear will aye abide 
The message that the bells let fall, 

And awesome bells they were to me, 

That in the dark rang, " Enderby." 

Jean Ingelmo. 

ONCE upon a time there was a Man and his 
Wife and a Tertium Quid. 
All three were unwise, but the Wife was the 
unwisest. The Man should have looked after his 
Wife, who should have avoided the Tertium Quid, 
who, again, should have married a wife of his 
own, after clean and open flirtations, to which 
nobody can possibly object, round Jakko or Ob- 
servatory Hill. When you see a young man 
with his pony in a white lather, and his hat on 
the back of his head flying down-hill at fifteen 
miles an hour to meet a girl who will be properly 
surprised to meet him, you naturally approve of 
that young man, and wish him Staff appoint- 
ments, and take an interest in his welfare, and, 
as the proper time comes, give them sugar-tongs 
or side-saddles according to your means and gen- 
erosity. 

47 



48 At the Pit's Mouth 

The Tertium Quid flew down-hill on horseback, 
but it was to meet the Man's Wife ; and when 
he flew up-hill it was for the same end. The 
Man was in the Plains, earning money for his 
Wife to spend on dresses and four-hundred-rupee 
bracelets, and inexpensive luxuries of that kind. 
He worked very hard, and sent her a letter or a 
post-card daily. She also wrote to him daily, 
and said that she was longing for him to come 
up to Simla. The Tertium Quid used to lean 
over her shoulder and laugh as he wrote the 
notes. Then the two would ride to the Post 
Office together. 

Now, Simla is a strange place and its customs 
are peculiar ; nor is any man who has not spent 
at least ten seasons there qualified to pass judg- 
ment on circumstantial evidence, which is the 
most untrustworthy in the Courts. For these 
reasons, and for others which need not appear, I 
decline to state positively whether there was any- 
thing irretrievably wrong in the relations between 
the Man's Wife and the Tertium Quid. If there 
was, and hereon you must form. your own opin- 
ion, it was the Man's Wife's fault. She was kit- 
tenish in her manners, wearing generally an air 
of soft and fluffy innocence. But she was dead- 
lily learned and evil-instructed; and, now and 
again, when the mask dropped, men saw this, 
shuddered and almost drew back. Men are oc- 



At the Pit's Mouth 49 

casionally particular, and the least particular men 
are always the most exacting. 

Simla is eccentric in its fashion of treating 
friendships. Certain attachments which have set 
and crystallized through half a dozen seasons 
acquire almost the sanctity of the marriage bond, 
and are revered as such. Again, certain attach- 
ments equally old, and, to all appearance, equally 
venerable, never seem to win any recognized 
official status; while a chance-sprung acquaint- 
ance, not two months born, steps into the place 
which by right belongs to the senior. There is 
no law reducible to print which regulates these 
affairs. 

Some people have a gift which secures them in- 
finite toleration, and others have not. The Man's 
Wife had not. If she looked over the garden 
wall, for instance, women taxed her with steal- 
ing their husbands. She complained pathetically 
that she was not allowed to choose her own 
friends. When she put up her big white muff to 
her lips, and gazed over it and under her eyebrows 
at you as she said this thing, you felt that she had 
been infamously misjudged, and that all the other 
women's instincts were all wrong ; which was 
absurd. She was not allowed to own the Tertium 
Quid in peace; and was so strangely constructed 
that she would not have enjoyed peace had she 
been so permitted. She preferred some sem- 



5 At the Pit ' s 



blance of intrigue to cloak even her most common- 
place actions. 

After two months of riding, first round Jakko, 
then Elysium, then Summer Hill, then Observa- 
tory Hill, then under Jutogh, and lastly up and 
down the Cart Road as far as the Tara Devi gap 
in the dusk, she said to the Tertium Quid, "Frank, 
people say we are too much together, and people 
are so horrid." 

The Tertium Quid pulled his moustache, and 
replied that horrid people were unworthy of the 
consideration of nice people. 

" But they have done more than talk they have 
written written to my hubby I'm sure of it," 
said the Man's Wife, and she pulled a letter from 
her husband out of her saddle-pocket and gave it 
to the Tertium Quid. 

It was an honest letter, written by an honest 
man, then stewing in the Plains on two hundred 
rupees a month (for he allowed his wife eight 
hundred and fifty), and in a silk banian and cot- 
ton trousers. It is said that, perhaps, she had not 
thought of the unwisdom of allowing her name 
to be so generally coupled ' with the Tertium 
Quid's; that she was too much of a child to un- 
derstand the dangers of that sort of thing; that 
he, her husband, was the last man in the world 
to interfere jealously with her little amusements 
and interests, but that it would be better were she 



At the Pit's Mouth 51 

to drop the Tertium Quid quietly and for her hus- 
band's sake. The letter was sweetened with 
many pretty little pet names, and it amused the 
Tertium Quid considerably. He and She laughed 
over it, so that you, fifty yards away, could see 
their shoulders shaking while the horses slouched 
along side by side. 

Their conversation was not worth reporting. 
The upshot of it was that, next day, no one saw 
the Man's Wife and the Tertium Quid together. 
They had both gone down to the Cemetery, 
which, as a rule, is only visited officially by the 
inhabitants of Simla. 

A Simla funeral with the clergyman riding, the 
mourners riding, and the coffin creaking as it 
swings between the bearers, is one of the most 
depressing things on this earth, particularly when 
the procession passes under the wet, dank dip 
beneath the Rockcliffe Hotel, where the sun is 
shut out, and all the hill streams are wailing and 
weeping together as they go down the valleys. 

Occasionally, folk tend the graves, but we in 
India shift and are transferred so often that, at the 
end of the second year, the Dead have no friends 
only acquaintances who are far too busy amus- 
ing themselves up the hill to attend to old part- 
ners. The idea of using a Cemetery as a ren- 
dezvous is distinctly a feminine one. A man 
would have said simply " Let people talk. We'll 



52 At the Pit's Mouth 

go down the Mall." A woman is made differ- 
ently, especially if she be such a woman as the 
Man's Wife. She and the Tertium Quid enjoyed 
each other's society among the graves of men and 
women whom they had known and danced with 
aforetime. 

They used to take a big horse-blanket and sit 
on the grass a little to the left of the lower end, 
where there is a dip in the ground, and where the 
occupied graves stop short and the ready-made 
ones are not ready. Each well-regulated Indian 
Cemetery keeps half a dozen graves permanently 
open for contingencies and incidental wear 
and tear. In the Hills these are more usually 
baby's size, because children who come up 
weakened and sick from the Plains often suc- 
cumb to the effects of the Rains in the Hills or 
get pneumonia from their ayahs taking them 
through damp pine-woods after the sun has set. 
In Cantonments, of course, the man's size is 
more in request; these arrangements varying 
v/ith the climate and population. 

One day when the Man's Wife and the Tertium 
Quid had just arrived in the Cemetery, they saw 
some coolies breaking ground. They had marked 
out a full-size grave, and the Tertium Quid asked 
them whether any Sahib was sick. They said 
that they did not know ; but it was an order that 
they should dig a Sahib's grave. 



At the Pit's Mouth 53 

"Work away," said the Tertium Quid, "and 
let's see how it's done." 

The coolies worked away, and the Man's Wife 
and the Tertium Quid watched and talked for a 
couple of hours while the grave was being deep- 
ened. Then a coolie, taking the earth in baskets 
as it was thrown up, jumped over the grave. 

"That's queer," said the Tertium Quid. 
"Where's my ulster?" 

" What's queer ?" said the Man's Wife. 

" I have got a chill down my back just as if a 
goose had walked over my grave." 

"Why do you look at the thing, then ?" said 
the Man's Wife. " Let us go." 

The Tertium Quid stood at the head of the 
grave, and stared without answering for a space. 
Then he said, dropping a pebble down, "It is 
nasty and cold; horribly cold. I don't think I 
shall come to the Cemetery any more. I don't 
think grave-digging is cheerful." 

The two talked and agreed that the Cemetery 
was depressing. They also arranged for a ride 
next day out from the Cemetery through the 
Mashobra Tunnel up to Fagoo and back, because 
all the world was going to a garden-party at 
Viceregal Lodge, and all the people of Mashobra 
would go too. 

Coming up the Cemetery road, the Tertium 
Quid's horse tried to bolt up-hill, being tired 



54 At the Pit's Mouth 

with standing so long, and managed to strain a 
back sinew. 

"I shall have to take the mare to-morrow," 
said the Tertium Quid, "and she will stand 
nothing heavier than a snaffle." 

They made their arrangements to meet in the 
Cemetery, after allowing all the Mashobra people 
time to pass into Simla. That night it rained 
heavily, and, next day, when the Tertium Quid 
came to the trysting-place, he saw that the new 
grave had a foot of water in it, the ground being 
a tough and sour clay. 

" 'Jove! That looks beastly," said the Tertium 
Quid. "Fancy being boarded up and dropped 
into that well!" 

They then started off to Fagoo, the mare play- 
ing with the snaffle and picking her way as 
though she were shod with satin, and the sun 
shining divinely. The road below Mashobra to 
Fagoo is officially styled the Himalayan-Thibet 
Road; but in spite of its name it is not much 
more than six feet wide in most places, and the 
drop into the valley below may be anything be- 
tween one and two thousand feet. 

"Now we're going to Thibet," said the Man's 
Wife merrily, as the horses drew near to Fagoo. 
She was riding on the cliff-side. 

"Into Thibet," said the Tertium Quid, "ever 
so far from people who say horrid things, and 



At the Pit's Mouth 55 

hubbies who write stupid letters. With you 
to the end of the world! " 

A coolie carrying a log of wood came round a 
corner, and the mare went wide to avoid him 
forefeet in and haunches out, as a sensible mare 
should go. 

"To the world's end," said the Man's Wife, 
and looked unspeakable things over her near 
shoulder at the Tertium Quid. 

He was smiling, but, while she looked, the 
smile froze stiff as it were on his face, and 
changed to a nervous grin the sort of grin men 
wear when they are not quite easy in their sad- 
dles. The mare seemed to be sinking by the 
stern, and her nostrils cracked while she was 
trying to realize what was happening. The rain 
of the night before had rotted the drop-side of 
the Himalayan-Thibet Road, and it was giving 
way under her. " What are you doing ? " said the 
Man's Wife. The Tertium Quid gave no answer. 
He grinned nervously and set his spurs into the 
mare, who rapped with her forefeet on the road, 
and the struggle began. The Man's Wife 
screamed, "Oh, Frank, get off!" 

But the Tertium Quid was glued to the saddle 
his face blue and white and he looked into 
the Man's Wife's eyes. Then the Man's Wife 
clutched at the mare's head and caught her by 
the nose instead of the bridle. The brute threw 



56 At the Pit's Mouth 

up her head and went down with a scream, the 
Tertium Quid upon her, and the nervous grin 
still set on his face. 

The Man's Wife heard the tinkle-tinkle of little 
stones and loose earth falling off the roadway, 
and the sliding roar of the man and horse going 
down. Then everything was quiet, and she 
called on Frank to leave his mare and walk up. 
But Frank did not answer. He was underneath 
the mare, nine hundred feet below, spoiling a 
patch of Indian corn. 

As the revellers came back from Viceregal 
Lodge in the mists of the evening, they met a 
temporarily insane woman, on a temporarily 
mad horse, swinging round the corners, with 
her eyes and her mouth open, and her head like 
the head of a Medusa. She was stopped by a 
man at the risk of his life, and taken out of the 
saddle, a limp heap, and put on the bank to ex- 
plain herself. This wasted twenty minutes, and 
then she was sent home in a lady's 'rickshaw, 
still with her mouth open and her hands picking 
at her riding-gloves. 

She was in bed through the following three 
days, which were rainy; so she missed attend- 
ing the funeral of the Tertium Quid, who was 
lowered into eighteen inches of water, instead of 
the twelve to which he had first objected. 



A WAYSIDE COMEDY 



A WAYSIDE COMEDY 

Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore 
the misery of man is great upon him. Eccles. viii. 6. 

FATE and the Government of India have turned 
the Station of Kashima into a prison; and, 
because there is no help for the poor souls who 
are now lying there in torment, I write this story, 
praying that the Government of India may be 
moved to scatter the European population to the 
four winds. 

Kashima is bounded on all sides by the rock- 
tipped circle of the Dosehri hills. In Spring, it is 
ablaze with roses; in Summer, the roses die and 
the hot winds blow from the hills; in Autumn, 
the white mists from the jhils cover the place as 
with water, and in Winter the frosts nip every- 
thing young and tender to earth-level. There is 
but one view in Kashima a stretch of perfectly 
flat pasture and plough-land, running up to the 
grey-blue scrub of the Dosehri hills. 

There are no amusements, except snipe and 
tiger shooting; but the tigers have been long 
since hunted from their lairs in the rock-caves, 
and the snipe only come once a year. Narkarra 
one hundred and forty-three miles by road is 
59 



60 A Wayside Comedy 

the nearest station to Kashima. But Kashima 
never goes to Narkarra, where there are at least 
twelve English people. It stays within the circle 
of the Dosehri hills. 

All Kashima acquits Mrs. Vansuythen of any 
intention to do harm; but all Kashima knows 
that she, and she alone, brought about their 
pain. 

Boulte, the Engineer, Mrs. Boulte, and Captain 
Kurrell know this. They are the English popu- 
lation of Kashima. if we except Major Vansuy- 
then, who is of no importance whatever, and 
Mrs. Vansuythen, who is the most important of 
all. 

You must remember, though you will not 
understand, that all laws weaken in a small and 
hidden community where there is no public opin- 
ion. When a man is absolutely alone in a Sta- 
tion he runs a certain risk of falling into evil 
ways. This risk is multiplied by every addition 
to the population up to twelve the Jury-num- 
ber. After that, fear and consequent restraint be- 
gin, and human action becomes less grotesquely 
jerky. 

There was deep peace in Kashima till Mrs. Van- 
suythen arrived. She was a charming woman, 
every one said so everywhere; and she charmed 
every one. In spite of this, or, perhaps, because 
of this, since Fate is so perverse, she cared only 



A Wayside Comedy 61 

for one man, and he was Major Vansuythen. 
Had she been plain or stupid, this matter would 
have been intelligible to Kashima. But she was 
a fair woman, with very still grey eyes, the color 
of a lake just before the light of the sun touches 
it. No man who had seen those eyes could, 
later on, explain what fashion of woman she 
was to look upon. The eyes dazzled him. Her 
own sex said that she was "not bad looking, 
but spoiled by pretending to be so grave." And 
yet her gravity was natural. It was not her habit 
to smile. She merely went through life, looking 
at those who passed; and the women objected 
while the men fell down and worshipped. 

She knows and is deeply sorry for the evil she 
has done to Kashima; but Major Vansuythen 
cannot understand why Mrs. Boulte does not 
drop in to afternoon tea at least three times a 
week. "When there are only two women in 
one Station, they ought to see a great deal of 
each other," says Major Vansuythen. 

Long and long before ever Mrs. Vansuythen 
came out of those far-away places where there 
is society and amusement, Kurrell had discovered 
that Mrs. Boulte was the one woman in the world 
for him and you dare not blame them. Kashima 
was as out of the world as Heaven or the Other 
Place, and the Dosehri hills kept their secret well. 
Boulte had no concern in the matter. He was in 



62 A Wayside Comedy 

camp for a fortnight at a time. He was a hard, 
heavy man, and neither Mrs. Boulte nor Kurrell 
pitied him. They had all Kashima and each 
other for their very, very own ; and Kashima was 
the Garden of Eden in those days. When Boulte 
returned from his wanderings he would slap Kur- 
rell between the shoulders and call him "old fel- 
low," and the three would dine together. Ka- 
shima was happy then when the judgment of 
God seemed almost as distant as Narkarra or the 
railway that ran down to the sea. But the Gov- 
ernment sent Major Vansuythen to Kashima, and 
with him came his wife. 

The etiquette of Kashima is much the same as 
that of a desert island. When a stranger is cast 
away there, all hands go down to the shore to 
make him welcome. Kashima assembled at the 
masonry platform close to the Narkarra Road, 
and spread tea for the Vansuythens. That cere- 
mony was reckoned a formal call, and made them 
free of the Station, its rights and privileges. 
When the Vansuythens were settled down, they 
gave a tiny house-warming to all Kashima; and 
that made Kashima free of their house, according 
to the immemorial usage of the Station. 

Then the Rains came, when no one could go 
Into camp, and the Narkarra Road was washed 
away by the Kasun River, and in the cup-like 
pastures of Kashima the cattle waded knee-deep. 



A Wayside Comedy 63 

The clouds dropped down from the Dosehri hills 
and covered everything. 

At the end of the Rains, Boulte's manner 
toward his wife changed and became demon- 
stratively affectionate. They had been married 
twelve years, and the change startled Mrs. Boulte, 
who hated her husband with the hate of a woman 
who has met with nothing but kindness from 
her mate, and, in the teeth of this kindness, has 
done him a great wrong. Moreover, she had 
her own trouble to fight with her watch to keep 
over her own property, Kurrell. For two months 
the Rains had hidden the Dosehri hills and many 
other things besides; but, when they lifted, they 
showed Mrs. Boulte that her man among men, 
her Ted for she called him Ted in the old days 
when Boulte was out of earshot was slipping 
the links of the allegiance. 

"The Vansuythen Woman has taken him," 
Mrs. Boulte said to herself; and when Boulte 
was away, wept over her belief, in the face of 
the over-vehement blandishments of Ted. Sor- 
row in Kashima is as fortunate as Love, because 
there is nothing to weaken it save the flight of 
Time. Mrs. Boulte had never breathed her sus- 
picion to Kurrell because she was not certain; and 
her nature led her to be very certain before she 
took steps in any direction. That is why she 
behaved as she did. 



64 A Wayside Comedy 

Boulte came into the house one evening, and 
leaned against the door-posts of the drawing- 
room, chewing his moustache. Mrs. Boulte 
was putting some flowers into a vase. There 
is a pretence of civilization even in Kashima. 

"Little woman," said Boulte, quietly, "do you 
care for me ? " 

"Immensely," said she, with a laugh. "Can 
you ask it ? " 

"But I'm serious," said Boulte. "Do you 
care for me ? " 

Mrs. Boulte dropped the flowers, and turned 
round quickly. "Do you want an honest an- 
swer ? " 

" Ye-es, I've asked for it." 

Mrs. Boulte spoke in a low, even voice for five 
minutes, very distinctly, that there might be no 
misunderstanding her meaning. When Samson 
broke the pillars of Gaza, he did a little thing, 
and one not to be compared to the deliberate 
pulling down of a woman's homestead about her 
own ears. There was no wise female friend to 
advise Mrs. Boulte, the singularly cautious wife, 
to hold her hand. She struck, at Boulte's heart, 
because her own was sick with suspicion of 
Kurrell, and worn out with the long strain of 
watching alone through the Rains. There was 
no plan or purpose in her speaking. The sen- 
tences made themselves; and Boulte listened. 



A Wayside Comedy 65 

leaning against the door-post with his hands in 
his pockets. When all was over, and Mrs. 
Boulte began to breathe through her nose before 
breaking out into tears, he laughed and stared 
straight in front of him at the Dosehri hills. 

"Is that all?" he said. "Thanks, I only 
wanted to know, you know." 

" What are you going to do ? " said the woman, 
between her sobs. 

"Do! Nothing. What should I do? Kill 
Kurrell or send you Home, or apply for leave to 
get a divorce ? It's two days' dak into Narkarra." 
He laughed again and went on: "I'll tell you 
whatjvow can do. You can ask Kurrell to dinner 
to-morrow no, on Thursday, that will allow you 
time to pack and you can bolt with him. I give 
you my word I won't follow." 

He took up his helmet and went out of the 
room, and Mrs. Boulte sat till the moonlight 
streaked the floor, thinking and thinking and 
thinking. She had done her best upon the spur 
of the moment to pull the house down; but it 
would not fall. Moreover, she could not under- 
stand her husband, and she was afraid. Then 
the folly of her useless truthfulness struck her, 
and she was ashamed to write to Kurrell, say- 
ing: " I have gone mad and told everything. My 
husband says that I am free to elope with you. 
Get a ddh for Thursday, and we will fly after 



66 A Wayside Comedy 

dinner." There was a cold-bloodedness about 
that procedure which did not appeal to her. So 
she sat still in her own house and thought. 

At dinner-time Boulte came back from his 
walk, white and worn and haggard, and the 
woman was touched at his distress. As the 
evening wore on, she muttered some expression of 
sorrow, something approaching to contrition. 
Boulte came out of a brown study and said, 
"Oh, that! I wasn't thinking about that. By 
the way, what does Kurrell say to the elope- 
ment?" 

" I haven't seen him," said Mrs. Boulte. " Good 
God! is that all?" 

But Boulte was not listening, and her sentence 
ended in a gulp. 

The next day brought no comfort to Mrs. 
Boulte, for Kurrell did not appear, and the new 
life that she, in the five minutes' madness of the 
previous evening, had hoped to build out of the 
ruins of the old, seemed to be no nearer. 

Boulte ate his breakfast, advised her to see her 
Arab pony fed in the veranda, and went out. 
The morning wore through, and at midday the 
tension became unendurable. Mrs. Boulte could 
not cry. She had finished her crying in the night, 
and now she did not want to be left alone. 
Perhaps the Vansuythen Woman would talk to 
her; and, since talking opens the heart, perhaps 



A Wayside Comedy 07 

there might be some comfort to be found in her 
company. She was the only other woman in 
the Station. 

In Kashima there are no regular calling-hours. 
Every one can drop in upon every one else at 
pleasure. Mrs. Boulte put on a big terai hat, and 
walked across to the Vansuythen's house to bor- 
row last week's Queen. The two compounds 
touched, and instead of going up the drive, she 
crossed through the gap in the cactus-hedge, 
entering the house from the- back. As she 
passed through the dining-room, she heard, be- 
hind the purdah that cloaked the drawing-room 
door, her husband's voice, saying 

" But on my Honor! On my Soul and Honor, 
I tell you she doesn't care for me. She told me 
so last night. I would have told you then if 
Vansuythen hadn't been with you. If it is for 
her sake that you'll have nothing to say to me, 
you can make your mind easy. It's Kurrell " 

"What?" said Mrs. Vansuythen, with an 
hysterical little laugh. "Kurrell! Oh, it can't 
be! You two must have made some horrible 
mistake. Perhaps you you lost your temper, 
or misunderstood, or something. Things can't 
be as wrong as you say." 

Mrs. Vansuythen had shifted her defence to 
avoid the man's pleading, and was desperately 
trying to keep him to a side-issue. 



68 A Wayside Comedy 

"There must be some mistake," she insisted, 
"and it can be all put right again." 

Boulte laughed grimly. 

" It can't be Captain Kurrell! He told me that 
he had never taken the least the least interest in 
your wife, Mr. Boulte. Oh, do listen! He said 
he had not. He swore he had not," said Mrs. 
Vansuythen. 

The purdah rustled, and the speech was cut 
short by the entry of a little, thin woman, with 
big rings round her eyes. Mrs. Vansuythen 
stood up with a gasp. 

"What was that you said?" asked Mrs*. 
Boulte. " Never mind that man. What did Ted 
say to you ? What did he say to you ? What 
did he say to you ? " 

Mrs. Vansuythen sat down helplessly on the 
sofa, overborne by the trouble of her ques- 
tioner. 

" He said I can't remember exactly what he 
said but I understood him to say that is But, 
really, Mrs. Boulte, isn't it rather a strange ques- 
tion ?" 

" Will you tell me what he, said?" repeated 
Mrs. Boulte. Even a tiger will fly before a bear 
robbed of her whelps, and Mrs. Vansuythen was 
only an ordinarily good woman. She began in a 
sort of desperation: "Well, he said that he never 
cared for you at all, and, of course, there was 



A Wayside Comedy 69 

not the least reason why he should have, and 
and that was all." 

" You said he swore he had not cared for me. 
Was that true?" 

"Yes," said Mrs. Vansuythen, very softly. 

Mrs. Boulte wavered for an instant where she 
stood, and then fell forward fainting. 

" What did 1 tell you ?" said Boulte, as though 
the conversation had been unbroken. "You 
can see for yourself. She cares for him." The 
light began to break into his dull mind, and 
he went on "And he what was he saying to 
you ? " 

But Mrs. Vansuythen, with no heart for expla- 
nations or impassioned protestations, was kneel- 
ing over Mrs. Boulte. 

"Oh, you brute!" she cried. "Are all men 
like this ? Help me to get her into my room 
and her face is cut against the table. Oh, will 
you be quiet, and help me to carry her ? I hate 
you, and I hate Captain Kurrell. Lift her up 
carefully and now go! Go away! " 

Boulte carried his wife into Mrs. Vansuythen's 
bedroom and departed before the storm of that 
lady's wrath and disgust, impenitent and burn- 
ing with jealousy. Kurrell had been making 
love to Mrs. Vansuythen would do Vansuythen 
as great a wrong as he had done Boulte, who 
caught himself considering whether Mrs. Van- 



TO A Wayside Comedy 

suythen would faint if she discovered that the 
man she loved had foresworn her. 

In the middle of these meditations, Kurrell 
came cantering along the road and pulled up with 
a cheery, " Good-mornin'. 'Been mashing Mrs. 
Vansuythen as usual, eh ? Bad thing for a sober, 
married man, that. What will Mrs. Boulte say ?" 

Boulte raised his head and said, slowly, " Oh, 
you liar!" Kurrell's face changed. "What's 
that ? " he asked, quickly. 

"Nothing much," said Boulte. " Has my wife 
told you that you two are free to go off whenever 
you please ? She has been good enough to ex- 
plain the situation to me. You've been a true 
friend to me, Kurrell old man haven't you ? " 

Kurrell groaned, and tried to frame some sort 
of idiotic sentence about being willing to give 
"satisfaction." But his interest in the woman 
was dead, had died out in the Rains, and, men- 
tally, he was abusing her for her amazing indis- 
cretion. It would have been so easy to have 
broken off the thing gently and by degrees, and 
now he was saddled with Boulte's voice re- 
called him. 

"I don't think I should get any satisfaction 
from killing you, and I'm pretty sure you'd get 
none from killing me." 

Then in a querulous tone, ludicrously dispro- 
portioned to his wrongs, Boulte added 



A Wayside Comedy 71 

" 'Seems rather a pity that you haven't the de- 
cency to keep to the woman, now you've got 
her. You've been a true friend to her too, 
haven't you?" 

Kurrell stared long and gravely. The situation 
was getting beyond him. 

" What do you mean ?" he said. 

Boulte answered, more to himself than the 
questioner: " My wife came over to Mrs. Van- 
suythen's just now; and it seems you'd been tell- 
ing Mrs. Vansuythen that you'd never cared for 
Emma. I suppose you lied, as usual. What 
had Mrs. Vansuythen to do with you, or you 
with her ? Try to speak the truth for once in a 
way." 

Kurrell took the double insult without wincing, 
and replied by another question : "Go on. What 
happened ?" 

"Emma fainted," said Boulte, simply. " But, 
look here, what had you been saying to Mrs. 
Vansuythen ? " 

Kurrell laughed. Mrs. Boulte had, with un- 
bridled tongue, made havoc of his plans; and he 
could at least retaliate by hurting the man in 
whose eyes he was humiliated and shown dis- 
honorable. 

" Said to her ? What does a man tell a lie like 
that for? I suppose I said pretty much what 
you've said, unless I'm a good deal mistaken. 



72 A Wayside Comedy 

"I spoke the truth," said Boulte, again more 
to himself than Kurrell. "Emma told me she 
hated me. She has no right in me." 

"No! I suppose not. You're only her hus- 
band, y'know. And what did Mrs. Vansuythen 
say after you had laid your disengaged heart at 
her feet ? " 

Kurrell felt almost virtuous as he put the ques- 
tion. 

"I don't think that matters," Boulte replied; 
"and it doesn't concern you." 

"But it does! I tell you it does" began 
Kurrell, shamelessly. 

The sentence was cut by a roar of laughter 
from Boulte's lips. Kurrell was silent for an in- 
stant, and then he, too, laughed laughed long 
and loudly, rocking in his saddle. It was an un- 
pleasant sound the mirthless mirth of these men 
on the long, white line of the Narkarra Road. 
There were no strangers in Kashima, or they 
might have thought that captivity within the 
Dosehri hills had driven half the European popu- 
lation mad. The laughter ended abruptly, and 
Kurrell was the first to speak. , 

" Well, what are you going to do ?" 

Boulte looked up the road, and at the hills. 

'Nothing," said he, quietly; "what's the use? 

It's too ghastly for anything. We must let the 

old life go on. I can only call you a hound and 



A Wayside Comedy 73 

a liar, and I can't go on calling you names for- 
ever. Besides which, I don't feel that I'm much 
better. We can't get out of this place. What is 
there to do?" 

Kurrell looked round the rat-pit of Kashima 
and made no reply. The injured husband took 
up the wondrous tale. 

" Ride on, and speak to Emma if you want to. 
God knows / don't care what you do." 

He walked forward, and left Kurrell gazing 
blankly after him. Kurrell did not ride on either 
to see Mrs. Boulte or Mrs. Vansuythen. He sat 
in his saddle and thought, while his pony grazed 
by the roadside. 

The whir of approaching wheels roused him. 
Mrs. Vansuythen was driving home Mrs. Boulte, 
white and wan, with a cut on her forehead. 

"Stop, please," said Mrs. Boulte, "I want to 
speak to Ted." 

Mrs. Vansuythen obeyed, but as Mrs. Boulte 
leaned forward, putting her hand upon the 
splash-board of the dog-cart, Kurrell spoke. 

"I've seen your husband, Mrs. Boulte." 

There was no necessity for any further expla- 
nation. The man's eyes were fixed, not upon 
Mrs. Boulte, but her companion. Mrs. Boulte 
saw the look. 

"Speak to him!" she pleaded, turning to the 
woman at her side. " Oh, speak to him! Tell 



74 A Wayside Comedy 

him what you told me just now. Tell him you 
hate him. Tell him you hate him ! " 

She bent forward and wept bitterly, while the 
sais, impassive, went forward to hold the horse. 
Mrs. Vansuythen turned scarlet and dropped the 
reins. She wished to be no party to such unholy 
explanations. 

" I've nothing to do with it," she began, coldly; 
but Mrs. Boulte's sobs overcame her, and she ad- 
dressed herself to the man. "I don't know what 
I am to say, Captain Kurrell. I don't know what 
I can call you. I think you've you've behaved 
abominably, and she has cut her forehead terri- 
bly against the table." 

" It doesn't hurt. It isn't anything," said Mrs. 
Boulte, feebly. " That doesn't matter. Tell him 
what you told me. Say you don't care for him. 
Oh, Ted, won't you believe her ? " 

"Mrs. Boulte has made me understand that 
you were that you were fond of her once upon 
a time," went on Mrs. Vansuythen. 

" Well! " said Kurrell, brutally. " It seems to 
me that Mrs. Boulte had better be fond of her 
own husband first." 

"Stop!" said Mrs. Vansuythen. "Hear me 
first. I don't care I don't want to know any- 
thing about you and Mrs. Boulte ; but I want 
you to know that I hate you, that I think you are 
a cur, and that I'll never, never speak to you 



A Wayside Comedy 75 

again. Oh, I don't dare to say what I think of 
you, you man! " 

" I want to speak to Ted," moaned Mrs. Boulte, 
but the dog-cart rattled on, and Kurrell was left on 
the road, shamed, and boiling with wrath against 
Mrs. Boulte. 

He waited till Mrs. Vansuythen was driving 
back to her own house, and, she being freed 
from the embarrassment of Mrs. Boulte's pres- 
ence, learned for the second time her opinion of 
himself and his actions. 

In the evenings, it was the wont of all Kashima 
to meet at the platform on the Narkarra Road, to 
drink tea, and discuss the trivialities of the day. 
Major Vansuythen and his wife found themselves 
alone at the gathering-place for almost the first 
time in their remembrance; and the cheery Major, 
in the teeth of his wife's remarkably reasonable 
suggestion that the rest of the Station might be. 
sick, insisted upon driving round to the two bun- 
galows and unearthing the population. 

"Sitting in the twilight!" said he, with great 
indignation, to the Boultes. "That'll never do! 
Hang it all, we're one family here! You must 
come out, and so must Kurrell. I'll make him 
bring his banjo." 

So great is the power of honest simplicity and 
a good digestion over guilty consciences that all 
Kashima did turn out, even down to the banjo; 



76 A Wayside Comedy 

and the Major embraced the company in one ex- 
pansive grin. As he grinned, Mrs. Vansuythen 
raised her eyes for an instant and looked at all 
Kashima. Her meaning was clear. Major Van- 
suythen would never know anything. He was 
to be the outsider in that happy family whose 
cage was the Dosehri hills. 

" You're singing villainously out of tune, Kur- 
rell," said the Major, truthfully. " Pass me that 
banjo." 

And he sang in excruciating-wise till the stars 
came out and all Kashima went to dinner. 



That was the beginning of the New Life of 
Kashima the life that Mrs. Boulte made when 
her tongue was loosened in the twilight. 

Mrs. Vansuythen has never told the Major; 
and since he insists upon keeping up a burden- 
some geniality, she has been compelled to break 
her vow of not speaking to Kurrell. This speech, 
which must of necessity preserve the semblance 
of politeness and interest, serves admirably to 
keep alight the flame of jealousy and dull hatred 
in Boulte's bosom, as it awakens the same pas- 
sions in his wife's heart. Mrs. Boulte hates Mrs. 
Vansuythen because she has taken Ted from her, 
and, in some curious fashion, hates her because 
Mrs. Vansuythen and here the wife's eyes see 



A Wayside Comedy 77 

far more clearly than the husband's detests Ted. 
And Ted that gallant captain and honorable man 
knows now that it is possible to hate a woman 
once loved, to the verge of wishing to silence her 
forever with blows. Above all, is he shocked 
that Mrs. Boulte cannot see the error of her ways. 

Boulte and he go out tiger-shooting together in 
all friendship. Boulte has put their relationship 
on a most satisfactory footing. 

"You're a blackguard," he says to Kurrell, 
"and I've lost any self-respect I may ever have 
had; but when you're with me, I can feel certain 
that you are not with Mrs. Vansuythen, or mak- 
ing Emma miserable." 

Kurrell endures anything that Boulte may say 
to him. Sometimes they are away for three 
days together, and then the Major insists upon 
his wife going over to sit with Mrs. Boulte; al- 
though Mrs. Vansuythen has repeatedly declared 
that she prefers her husband's company to any in 
the world. From the way in which she clings to 
him, she would certainly seem to be speaking the 
truth. 

But of course, as the Major says, "in a little 
Station we must all be friendly." 



THE HILL OF ILLUSION 



THE HILL OF ILLUSION 

What rendered vain their deep desire ? 
A God, a God their severance ruled, 
And bade between their shores to be 
The unplumbed, salt, estranging sea. 

Matthew Arnold, 

HE. Tell your jhampanis not to hurry so, dear. 
They forget I'm fresh from the Plains. 

SHE. Sure proof that / have not been going 
out with any one. Yes, they are an untrained 
crew. Where do we go ? 

HE. As usual to the world's end. No, Jakko. 

SHE. Have your pony led after you, then. It's 
a long round. 

HE. And for the last time, thank Heaven 1 

SHE. Do you mean that still ? I didn't dare to 
write to you about it all these months. 

HE. Mean it! I've been shaping my affairs 
to that end since Autumn. What makes you 
speak as though it had occurred to you for the 
first time ? 

SHE. I ! Oh! I don't know. I've had long 
enough to think, too. 

HE. And you've changed your mind ? 

SHE. No. You ought to know that I am a 

at 



82 The Hill of Illusion 

miracle of constancy. What are your arrange- 
ments ? 

HE. Ours, Sweetheart, please. 

SHE. Ours, be it then. My poor boy, how the 
prickly heat has marked your forehead! Have 
you ever tried sulphate of copper in water ? 

HE. It'll go away in a day or two up here. 
The arrangements are simple enough. Tonga in 
the early morning reach Kalka at twelve Um- 
balla at seven down, straight by night train, to 
Bombay, and then the steamer of the 2ist for 
Rome. That's my idea. The Continent and 
Sweden a ten-week honeymoon. 

SHE. Ssh! Don't talk of it in that way. It 
makes me afraid. Guy, how long have we two 
been insane ? 

HE. Seven months and fourteen days, I for- 
get the odd hours exactly, but I'll think. 

SHE. I only wanted to see if you remembered. 
Who are those two on the Blessington Road ? 

HE. Eabrey and the Penner woman. What 
do they matter to us ? Tell me everything that 
you've been doing and saying and thinking. 

SHE. Doing little, saying Jess, and thinking a 
great deal. I've hardly been out at all. 

HE. That was wrong of you. You haven't 
been moping ? 

SHE. Not very much. Can you wonder that 
I'm disinclined for amusement ? 



The Hill of Illusion 83 

HE. Frankly, I do. Where was the difficulty ? 

SHE. In this only. The more people I know 
and the more I'm known here, the wider spread 
will be the news of the crash when it comes. I 
don't like that. 

HE. Nonsense. We shall be out of it. 

SHE. You think so ? 

HE. I'm sure of it, if there is any power in 
steam or horse-flesh to carry us away. Ha! ha! 

SHE. And the fun of the situation comes in 
where, my Lancelot ? 

HE. Nowhere, Guinevere. I was only think- 
ing of something. 

SHE. They say men have a keener sense of 
humor than women. Now / was thinking of the 
scandal. 

HE. Don't think of anything so ugly. We 
shall be beyond it. 

SHE. It will be there all the same in the 
mouths of Simla telegraphed over India, and 
talked of at the dinners and when He goes out 
they will stare at Him to see how He takes it. 
And we shall be dead, Guy dear dead and cast 
into the outer darkness where there is 

HE. Love at least. Isn't that enough ? 

SHE. I have said so. 

HE. And you think so still ? 

SHE. What do you think ? 

HE. What have I done ? It means equal ruin 



84 The Hill of Illusion 

to me, as the world reckons it outcasting, the 
loss of my appointment, the breaking off my 
life's work. I pay my price. 

SHE. And are you so much above the world 
that you can afford to pay it ? Am I ? 

HE. My Divinity what else ? 

SHE. A very ordinary woman I'm afraid, but, 
so far, respectable. How'd you do, Mrs. Mid- 
dleditch ? Your husband ? I think he's riding 
down to Annandale with Colonel Statters. Yes, 
isn't it divine after the rain ? Guy, how long am 
1 to be allowed to bow to Mrs. Middleditch ? Till 
the i 7th ? 

HE. Frowsy Scotchwoman? What is the 
use of bringing her into the discussion? You 
were saying ? 

SHE. Nothing. Have you ever seen a man 
hanged ? 

HE. Yes. Once. 

SHE. What was it for ? 

HE. Murder, of course. 

SHE. Murder. Is that so great a sin after all ? 
I wonder how he felt before the drop fell. 

HE. I don't think he felt much. What a grue- 
some little woman it is this evening ! You're 
shivering. Put on your cape, dear. 

SHE. I think I will. Oh! Look at the mist 
coming over Sanjaoli; and I thought we should 
have sunshine on the Ladies' Mile ! Let's turn back. 



The Hill of Illusion 85 

HE. What's the good ? There's a cloud on 
Elysium Hill, and that means it's foggy all down 
the Mall. We'll go on. It'll blow away before we 
get to the Convent, perhaps. 'Jove! It is chilly. 

SHE. You feel it, fresh from below. Put on 
your ulster. What do you think of my cape ? 

HE. Never ask a man his opinion of a woman's 
dress when he is desperately and abjectly in love 
with the wearer. Let me look. Like everything 
else of yours it's perfect. Where did you get it 
from ? 

SHE. He gave it me, on Wednesday our 
wedding-day, you know. 

HE. The Deuce He did! He's growing gen- 
erous in his old age. D'you like all that frilly, 
bunchy stuff at the throat ? I don't. 

SHE. Don't you ? 

Kind Sir, o* your courtesy, 

As you go by the town, Sir, 
'Pray you o' your love for me, 

Buy me a russet gown, Sir. 

HE. I won't say: "Keek into the draw-well, 
Janet, Janet." Only wait a little, darling, and you 
shall be stocked with russet gowns and every- 
thing else. 

SHE. And when the frocks wear out, you'll 
get me new ones and everything else ? 

HE. Assuredly. 



86 The Hill of Illusion 

SHE. I wonder! 

HE. Look here, Sweetheart, I didn't spend 
two days and two nights in the train to hear you 
wonder. I thought we'd settled all that at 
Shaifazehat. 

SHE. (dreamily.) At Shaifazehat? Does the 
Station go on still ? That was ages and ages 
ago. It must be crumbling to pieces. All ex- 
cept the Amirtollah hutcha road. I don't believe 
that could crumble till the Day of Judgment. 

HE. You think so ? What is the mood now ? 

SHE. I can't tell. How cold it is ! Let us get 
on quickly. 

HE. 'Better walk a little. Stop your jham- 
panis and get out. What's the matter with you 
this evening, dear ? 

SHE. Nothing. You must grow accustomed 
to my ways. If I'm boring you I can go home. 
Here's Captain Congleton coming, I dare say he'll 
be willing to escort me. 

HE. Goose! Between us, tool Damn Cap- 
tain Congleton! 

SHE. Chivalrous Knight. Is it your habit to 
swear much in talking ? It jars a little, and you 
might swear at me. 

HE. My angel! I didn't know what I was 
saying; and you changed so quickly that I couldn't 
follow. I'll apologize in dust and ashes. 

SHE. There'll be enough of those later on 



The Hill of Illusion 9? 

Good-night, Captain Congleton. Going to the 
singing-quadrilles already? What dances am I 
giving you next week? No! You must have 
written them down wrong. Five and Seven, / 
said. If you've made a mistake, I certainly don't 
intend to suffer for it. You must alter your 
programme. 

HE. I thought you told me that you had not 
been going out much this season ? 

SHE. Quite true, but when I do I dance with 
Captain Congleton. He dances very nicely. 

HE. And sit out with him, I suppose ? 

SHE. Yes. Have you any objection ? Shall I 
stand under the chandelier in future ? 

HE. What does he talk to you about ? 

SHE. What do men talk about when they sit 
out? 

HE. Ugh! Don't! Well now I'm up, you 
must dispense with the fascinating Congleton for 
a while. I don't like him. 

SHE (after a pause). Do you know what you 
have said ? 

HE. 'Can't say that I do exactly. I'm not in 
the best of tempers. 

SHE. So I see, and feel. My true and faith- 
ful lover, where is your "eternal constancy," 
"unalterable trust," and "reverent devotion"? 
I remember those phrases ; you seem to have for- 
gotten them. I mention a man's name 



88 The Hill of Illusion 

HE. A good deal more than that. 

SHE. Well, speak to him about a dance per- 
haps the last dance that I shall ever dance in my 
life before I, before I go away ; and you at once 
distrust and insult me. 

HE. I never said a word. 

SHE. How much did you imply ? Guy, is this 
amount of confidence to be our stock to start the 
new life on ? 

HE. No, of course not. I didn't mean that. 
On my word and honor, I didn't. Let it pass, 
dear. Please let it pass. 

SHE. This once yes and a second time, and 
again and again, all through the years when I 
shall be unable to resent it. You want too much, 
my Lancelot, and, you know too much. 

HE. How do you mean ? 

SHE. That is a part of the punishment. There 
cannot be perfect trust between us. 

HE. In Heaven's name, why not? 

SHE. Hush \ The Other Place Is quite enough. 
Ask yourself. 

HE. I don't follow. 

SHE. You trust me so implicitly that when I 
look at another man Never mind, Guy. Have 
you ever made love to a girl a good girl ? 

HE. Something of the sort. Centuries ago 
in the Dark Ages, before I ever met you, dear. 

SHE. Tell me what you said to her. 



The Hill of Illusion 89 

HE. What does a man say to a girl ? I've for- 
gotten. 

SHE. / remember. He tells her that he trusts 
her and worships the ground she walks on, and 
that he'll love and honor and protect her till her 
dying day; and so she marries in that belief. At 
least, I speak of one girl who was not protected. 

HE. Well, and then ? 

SHE. And then, Guy, and then, that girl needs 
ten times the love and trust and honor yes, honor 
that was enough when she was only a mere 
wife if if the other life she chooses to lead is 
to be made even bearable. Do you understand ? 

HE. Even bearable! It'll be Paradise. 

SHE. Ah! Can you give me all I've asked for 
not now, nor a few months later, but when 
you begin to think of what you might have done 
if you had kept your own appointment and your 
caste here when you begin to look upon me as 
a drag and a burden ? i shall want it most, then, 
Guy, for there will be no one in the wide world 
but you. 

HE. You're a little over-tired to-night, Sweet- 
heart, and you're taking a stage view of the sit- 
uation. After the necessary business in the 
Courts, the road is clear to 

SHE. "The holy state of matrimony!" Ha! 
ha! ha! 

HE. Ssh! Don't laugh in that horrible way! 



90 The Hill of Illusion 

SHE, I I c-c-c-can't help it! Isn't it too ab- 
surd! Ah! Ha! ha! ha! Guy, stop me quick 
or I shall 1-1-laugh till we get to the Church. 

HE. For goodness' sake, stop! Don't make 
an exhibition of yourself. What is the matter 
with you ? 

SHE. N-nothing. I'm better now. 

HE. That's all right. One moment, dear. 
There's a little wisp of hair got loose from be- 
hind your right ear and it's straggling over your 
cheek. So! 

SHE. Thank'oo. I'm 'fraid my hat's on one 
side, too. 

HE. What do you wear these huge dagger 
bonnet-skewers for ? They're big enough to 
kill a man with. 

SHE. Oh! Don't kill me, though. You're 
sticking it into my head! Let me do it. You 
men are so clumsy. 

HE. Have you had many opportunities of 
comparing us in this sort of work ? 

SHE. Guy, what is my name ? 

HE. Eh! I don't follow. 

SHE. Here's my cardcase. Can you read ? 

HE. Yes. Well ? 

SHE. Well, that answers your question. You 
know the other man's name. Am I sufficiently 
humbled, or would you like to ask me if there is 
any one else ? 



The Hill of Illusion 91 

HE. I see now. My darling, I never meant 
that for an instant. I was only joking. There! 
Lucky there's no one on the road. They'd be 
scandalized. 

SHE. They'll be more scandalized before the 
end. 

HE. Do-on't! I don't like you to talk in that 
way. 

SHE. Unreasonable man! Who asked me to 
face the situation and accept it ? Tell me, do I 
look like Mrs. Penner ? Do I look like a naughty 
woman ? Swear I don't! Give me your word of 
honor, my honorable friend, that I'm not like 
Mrs. Buzgago. That's the way she stands, with 
her hands clasped at the back of her head. D'you 
like that ? 

HE. Don't be affected. 

SHE. I'm not. I'm Mrs. Buzgago. Listen! 

Pendant une anne' toute entiere 
Le regiment n'a pas r'paru. 
Au Ministere de la Guerre 
On le r'porta comme perdu. 

On se r'noncait a r'trouver sa trace, 
Quand un matin subitement, 
On le vit r'paraitre sur la place, 
L'Colonel toujours en avant. 

That's the way she rolls her r's. Am I like her ? 
HE. No, but I object when you go on like an 



92 The Hill of Illusion 

actress and sing stuff of that kind. Where in 
the world did you pick up the Chanson du Colo- 
nel ? It isn't a drawing-room song. It isn't 
proper. 

SHE. Mrs. Buzgago taught it me. She is 
both drawing-room and proper, and in another 
month she'll shut her drawing-room to me, and 
thank God she isn't as improper as I am. Oh, 
,Guy, Guy! I wish I was like some women and 
had no scruples about what is it Keene says ? 
"Wearing a corpse's hair and being false to the 
bread they eat." 

HE. I am only a man of limited intelligence, 
and, just now, very bewildered. When you 
have quite finished flashing through all your 
moods tell me, and I'll try to understand the last 
one. 

SHE. Moods, Guy! I haven't any. I'm six- 
teen years old and you're just twenty, and you've 
been waiting for two hours outside the school in 
the cold. And now I've met you, and now we're 
walking home together. Does that suit you, My 
Imperial Majesty ? 

HE. No. We aren't children. Why can't 
you be rational ? 

SHE. He asks me that when I'm going to com- 
mit suicide for his sake, and, and I don't want 
to be French and rave about my mother, but 
have 1 ever told you that I have a mother, and a 



The Hill of Illusion 93 

brother who was my pet before I married ? He's 
married now. Can't you imagine the pleasure 
that the news of the elopement will give him ? 
Have you any people at Home, Guy, to be 
pleased with your performances ? 

HE. One or two. One can't make omelets 
without breaking eggs. 

SHE (slowly), I don't see the necessity 

HE. Hah! What do you mean ? 

SHE. Shall I speak the truth ? 

HE. Under the circumstances, perhaps it would 
be as well. 

SHE. Guy, I'm afraid. 

HE. I thought we'd settled all that. What of ? 

SHE. Of you. 

HE. Oh, damn it all! The old business 1 
This is too bad ! 

SHE. Of you. 

HE. And what now ? 

SHE. What do you think of me . 

HE. Beside the question altogether. What do 
you intend to do ? 

SHE. I daren't risk it. I'm afraid. If I could 
only cheat 

HE. A la Bu^gago ? No, thanks. That's the 
one point on which I have any notion of Honor. 
I won't eat his salt and steal too. I'll loot openly 
or not at all. 

SHE. I never meant anything else. 



94 The Hill of Illusion 

HE. Then, why in the world do you pretend 
not to be willing to come ? 

SHE. It's not pretence, Guy. I am afraid. 

HE. Please explain. 

SHE. It can't last, Guy. It can't last. You'll 
get angry, and then you'll swear, and then you'll 
get jealous, and then you'll mistrust me you do 
now and you yourself will be the best reason for 
doubting. And I what shall / do ? I shall be 
no better than Mrs. Buzgago found out no bet- 
ter than any one. And you'll know that. Oh, 
Guy, can't you see ? 

HE. I see that you are desperately unreason- 
able, little woman. 

SHE. There! The moment I begin to object, 
you get angry. What will you do when I am 
only your property stolen property? It can't 
be, Guy. It can't be ! I thought it could, but it 
can't You'll get tired of me. 

HE. I tell you I shall not. Won't anything 
make you understand that ? 

SHE. There, can't you see ? If you speak to 
me like that now, you'll call me horrible names 
later, if I don't do everything as, you like. And 
if you were cruel to me, Guy, where should I go 
where should I go ? I can't trust you. Oh ! I 
can't trust you! 

HE. I suppose I ought to say that I can trust 
you. I've ample reason. , 



The Hill of Illusion 95 

SHE. Please don't, dear. It hurts as much as 
if you hit me. 

HE. It isn't exactly pleasant for me. 

SHE. I can't help it I wish I were dead! I 
can't trust you, and I don't trust myself. Oh, 
Guy, let it die away and be forgotten ! 

HE. Too late now. I don't understand you 
I won't and I can't trust myself to talk this even- 
ing. May I call to-morrow ? 

SHE. Yes. No! Oh, give me time! The day 
after. I get into my 'rickshaw here and meet 
Him at Peliti's. You ride. 

HE. I'll go on to Peliti's too. I think I want 
a drink. My world's knocked about my ears and 
the stars are falling. Who are those brutes howl- 
ing in the Old Library ? 

SHE. They're rehearsing the singing-quadrilles 
for the Fancy Ball. Can't you hear Mrs. Buzga- 
go's voice? She has a solo. It's quite a new 
idea. Listen. 

MRS. BUZGAGO (in the Old Library, con. molt, 
exp.). 

See saw ! Margery Daw ! 
Sold her bed to lie upon straw. 
Wasn't she a silly slut 
To sell her bed and lie upon dirt ? 

Captain Congleton, I'm going to alter that to 
"flirt." It sounds better. 



96 The Hill of Illusion 

HE. No, I've changed my mind about the 
drink. Good-night, little lady. I shall see you 
to-morrow ? 

SHE. Ye es. Good-night, Guy. Don't be 
angry with me. 

HE. Angry ! You know I trust you absolutely. 
Good-night and God bless you! 

{Three seconds later. Alone.) Hmm! I'd 
give something to discover whether there's an- 
other man at the back of all this. 



A SECOND-RATE WOMAN 



A SECOND-RATE WOMAN 

Est fuga, volvitur rota, 

On we drift : where looms the dim port ? 
One Two Three Four Five contribute their quota : 

Something is gained if one caught but the import, 
Show it us, Hugues of Saxe-Gotha. 

Master Hugues of Saxe-Gotka. 

"pvRESSED! Don't tell me that woman ever 
L/ dressed in her life. She stood in the 
middle of the room while her ayah no, her 
husband it must have been a man threw her 
clothes at her. She then did her hair with her 
fingers, and rubbed her bonnet in the flue under 
the bed. I know she did, as well as if I had as- 
sisted at the orgie. Who is she?" said Mrs. 
Hauksbee. 

"Don't!" said Mrs. Mallowe, feebly. "You 
make my head ache. I'm miserable to-day. Stay 
me with fondants, comfort me with chocolates, 
for I am Did you bring anything from 
Peliti's?" 

"Questions to begin with. You shall have 
the sweets when you have answered them. 
Who and what is the creature ? There were at 
99 



ioo A Second-rate Woman 

least half a dozen men round her, and she ap- 
peared to be going to sleep in their midst." 

"Delville," said Mrs. Mallowe, "'Shady' Del- 
ville, to distinguish her from Mrs. Jim of that ilk. 
She dances as untidily as she dresses, I believe, 
and her husband is somewhere in Madras. Go 
and call, if you are so interested." 

"What have I to do with Shigramitish 
women ? She merely caught my attention for a 
minute, and I wondered at the attraction that a 
dowd has for a certain type of man. I expected 
to see her walk out of her clothes until I looked 
at her eyes." 

"Hooks and eyes, surely," drawled Mrs. Mal- 
lowe. 

"Don't be clever, Polly. You make my head 
ache. And round this hayrick stood a crowd of 
men a positive crowd ! " 

"Perhaps they also expected" 

" Polly, don't be Rabelaisian! " 

Mrs. Mallowe curled herself up comfortably on 
the sofa, and turned her attention to the sweets. 
She and Mrs. Hauksbee shared the same house at 
Simla; and these things befell two seasons after 
the matter of Otis Yeere, which has been already 
recorded. 

Mrs. Hauksbee stepped into the veranda and 
looked down upon the Mall, her forehead puck- 
ered with thought. 



A Second-rate Woman 101 

"Hah!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, shortly. "In- 
deed!" 

"What is it?" said Mrs. Mallowe, sleepily. 

"That dowd and The Dancing Master to 
whom I object." 

" Why to The Dancing Master ? He is a mid- 
dle-aged gentleman, of reprobate and romantic 
tendencies, and tries to be a friend of mine." 

"Then make up your mind to lose him. 
Dowds cling by nature, and I should imagine 
that this animal how terrible her bonnet looks 
from above! is specially clingsome." 

" She is welcome to The Dancing Master so far 
as I am concerned. I never could take an inter- 
est in a monotonous liar. The frustrated aim of 
his life is to persuade people that he is a bach- 
elor." 

"O-oh! I think I've met that sort of man be- 
fore. And isn't he ? " 

"No. He confided that to me a few days 
ago. Ugh! Some men ought to be killed." 

"What happened then?" 

" He posed as the horror of horrors a mis- 
understood man. Heaven knows the femme in- 
comprise is sad enough and bad enough but 
the other thing!" 

"And so fat too! / should have laughed in 
his face. Men seldom confide in me. How is it 
they come to you?" 



IO2 A Second-rate Woman 

"For the sake of impressing me with their 
careers in the past. Protect me from men with 
confidences! " 

" And yet you encourage them ?" 

"What can I do? They talk, I listen, and 
they vow that I am sympathetic. I know I al- 
ways profess astonishment even when the plot is 
of the most old possible." 

" Yes. Men are so unblushingly explicit if they 
are once allowed to talk, whereas women's confi- 
dences are full of reservations and fibs, except " 

"When they go mad and babble of the Unut- 
terabilities after a week's acquaintance. Really, 
if you come to consider, we know a great deal 
more of men than of our own sex." 

"And the extraordinary thing is that men will 
never believe it. They say we are trying to hide 
something." 

"They are generally doing that on their own 
account. Alas! These chocolates pall upon me, 
and I haven't eaten more than a dozen. I think I 
shall go to sleep." 

"Then you'll get fat, dear. If you took more 
exercise and a more intelligent -interest in your 
neighbors you would " 

" Be as much loved as Mrs. Hauksbee. You're 
a darling in many ways and I like you you are 
not a woman's woman but why do you trouble 
yourself about mere human beings ? " 



A Second-rate Woman 103 

"Because in the absence of angels, who I am 
sure would be horribly dull, men and women are 
the most fascinating things in the whole wide 
world, lazy one. I am interested in The Dowd 
I am interested in The Dancing Master I am 
interested in the Hawley Boy and I am inter- 
ested in you." 

"Why couple me with the Hawley Boy ? He 
is your property." 

"Yes, and in his own guileless speech, I'm 
making a good thing out of him. When he is 
slightly more reformed, and has passed his 
Higher Standard, or whatever the authorities 
think fit to exact from him, I shall select a pretty 
little girl, the Holt girl, I think, and" here she 
waved her hands airily "'whom Mrs. Hauks- 
bee hath joined together let no man put asun- 
der.' That's all." 

"And when you have yoked May Holt with 
the most notorious detrimental in Simla, and 
earned the undying hatred of Mamma Holt, what 
will you do with me, Dispenser of the Destinies 
of the Universe?" 

Mrs. Hauksbee dropped into a low chair in 
front of the fire, and, chin in hand, gazed long 
and steadfastly at Mrs. Mallowe. 

"I do not know," she said, shaking her head, 
"what I shall do with you, dear. It's obviously 
impossible to marry you to some one else your 



104 A Second-rate Woma,n 

husband would object and the experiment might 
not be successful after all. I think I shall begin 
by preventing you from what. is it? 'sleeping 
on ale-house benches and snoring in the sun.' " 

"Don't! I don't like your quotations. They 
are so rude. Go to the Library and bring me 
new books." 

"While you sleep? No! If you don't come 
with me, I shall spread your newest frock on my 
'rickshaw-bow, and when any one asks me what 
I am doing, I shall say that I am going to Phelps's 
to get it let out. I shall take care that Mrs. Mac- 
Namara sees me. Put your things on, there's a 
good girl." 

Mrs. Mallowe groaned and obeyed, and the 
two went off to the Library, where they found 
Mrs. Delville and the man who went by the 
nickname of The Dancing Master. By that time 
Mrs. Mallowe was awake and eloquent. 

"That is the Creature!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, 
with the air of one pointing out a slug in the 
road. 

"No," said Mrs. Mallowe. "The man is the 
Creature. Ugh! Good-evening, Mr. Bent. I 
thought you were coming to tea this evening." 

"Surely it was for to-morrow, was it not?" 
answered The Dancing Master. "I understood 
. . . I fancied . . . I'm so sorry . . . 
How very unfortunate!" . . . 



A Second-rate Woman 105 

But Mrs. Mallowe had passed on. 

"For the practiced equivocator you said he 
was," murmured Mrs. Hauksbee, "he strikes me 
as a failure. Now wherefore should he have 
preferred a walk with The Dowd to tea with 
us ? Elective affinities, I suppose both grubby. 
Polly, I'd never forgive that woman as long as 
the world rolls." 

"I forgive every woman everything," said 
Mrs. Mallowe. " He will be a sufficient punish- 
ment for her. What a common voice she has! " 

Mrs. Delville's voice was not pretty, her car- 
riage was even less lovely, and her raiment was 
strikingly neglected. All these things Mrs. Mal- 
lowe noticed over the top of a magazine. 

" Now what is there in her ? " said Mrs. Hauks- 
bee. " Do you see what I meant ?.bout the 
clothes falling off? If I were a man I would 
perish sooner than be seen with that rag-bag. 
And yet, she has good eyes, but Oh! " 

"What is it?" 

" She doesn't know how to use them ! On my 
Honor, she does not. Look! Oh look! Untidi- 
ness I can endure, but ignorance never! The 
woman's a fool." 

"Hsh! She'll hear you." 

"All the women in Simla are fools. She'll 
think I mean some one else. Now she's going 
out. What a thoroughly objectionable couple 



io6 A Second-rate Woman 

she and The Dancing Master make ! Which re- 
minds me. Do you suppose they'll ever dance 
together ? " 

"Wait and see. I don't envy her the conver- 
sation of The Dancing Master loathly man ! His 
wife ought to be up here before long." 

"Do you know anything about him ? " 

"Only what he told me. It may be all a fic- 
tion. He married a girl bred in the country, I 
think, and, being an honorable, chivalrous soul, 
told me that he repented his bargain and sent her 
to her mother as often as possible a person who 
has lived in the Doon since the memory of man 
and goes to Mussoorie when other people go 
Home. The wife is with her at present. So he 
says." 

"Babies?" 

" One only, but he talks of his wife in a revolt- 
ing way. I hated him for it. He thought he 
was being epigrammatic and brilliant." 

"That is a vice peculiar to men. I dislike him 
because he is generally in the wake of some girl, 
disappointing the Eligibles. He will persecute 
May Holt no more, unless I am much mistaken." 

"No. I think Mrs. Delville may occupy his 
attention for a while." 

"Do you suppose she knows that he is the 
head of a family?" 

"Not from his lips. He swore me to eternal 



A Second-rate Woman 107 

secrecy. Wherefore I tell you. Don't you know 
that type of man ? " 

"Not intimately, thank goodness! As a gen- 
eral rule, when a man begins to abuse his wife 
to me, I find that the Lord gives me wherewith 
to answer him according to his folly; and we 
part with a coolness between us. I laugh." 

" I'm different. I've no sense of humor." 

" Cultivate it, then. It has been my mainstay 
for more years than I care to think about. A 
well-educated sense of Humor will save a woman 
when Religion, Training, and Home influences 
fail; and we may all need salvation sometimes." 

" Do you suppose that the Delville woman has 
humor?" 

" Her dress beways her. How can a Thing 
who wears her supplement under her left arm 
have any notion of the fitness of things much 
less their folly ? If she discards The Dancing 
Master after having once seen him dance, I may 
respect her. Otherwise " 

" But are we not both assuming a great deal 
too much, dear ? You saw the woman at Peliti's 
half an hour later you saw her walking with 
The Dancing Master an hour later you met her 
here at the Library." 

"Still with The Dancing Master, remember." 

"Still with The Dancing Master, I admit, but 
why on the strength of that should you imagine " 



io8 A Second-rate Woman 

"I imagine nothing. I have no imagination. 
I am only convinced that The Dancing Master is 
attracted to The Dowd because he is objection- 
able in every way and she in every other. If I 
know the man as you have described him, he 
holds his wife in slavery at present." 

"She is twenty years younger than he." 

"Poor wretch! And, in the end, after he has 
posed and swaggered and lied he has a mouth 
under that ragged moustache simply made for lies 
he will be rewarded according to his merits." 

"I wonder what those really are," said Mrs. 
Mallowe. 

But Mrs. Hauksbee, her face close to the shelf 
of the new books, was humming softly: " What 
shall he have who hilled the Deer! " She was a 
lady of unfettered speech. 

One month later, she announced her intention 
of calling upon Mrs. Delville. Both Mrs. Hauks- 
bee and Mrs. Mallowe were in morning wrap- 
pers, and there was a great peace in the land. 

"1 should go as I was," said Mrs. Mallowe. 
" It would be a delicate compliment to her style." 

Mrs. Hauksbee studied herself in the glass. 

" Assuming for a moment that she ever dark- 
ened these doors, I should put on this robe, after 
all the others, to show her what a morning wrap- 
per ought to be. It might enliven her. As it is, 
I shall go in the dove-colored sweet emblem of 



A Second-rate Woman 109 

youth and innocence and shall put on my new 
gloves." 

"If you really are going, dirty tan would be 
too good; and you know that dove-color spots 
with the rain." 

"I care not. I may make her envious. At 
least I shall try, though one cannot expect very 
much from a woman who puts a lace tucker into 
her habit." 

"Just Heavens! When did she do that?" 

" Yesterday riding with The Dancing Master. 
I met them at the back of Jakko, and the rain 
had made the lace lie down. To complete the 
effect, she was wearing an unclean terai with 
the elastic under her chin. I felt almost too well 
content to take the trouble to despise her." 

' ' The Hawley Boy was riding with you. What 
did he think?" 

" Does a boy ever notice these things ? Should 
I like him if he did? He stared in the rudest 
way, and just when I thought he had seen the 
elastic, he said, ' There's something very taking 
about that face.' I rebuked him on the spot. I 
don't approve of boys being taken by faces." 

" Other than your own. I shouldn't be in the 
least surprised if the Hawley Boy immediately 
went to call." 

" I forbade him. Let her be satisfied with The 
Dancing Master, and his wife when she comes 



no A Second-rate Woman 

up. I'm rather curious to see Mrs. Bent and the 
Delville woman together." 

Mrs. Hauksbee departed and, at the end of an 
hour, returned slightly flushed. 

"There is no limit to the treachery of youth! 
I ordered the Hawley Boy, as he valued my pat- 
ronage, not to call. The first person I stumble 
over literally stumble over in her poky, dark, 
little drawing-room is, of course, the Hawley 
Boy. She kept us waiting ten minutes, and then 
emerged as though she had been tipped out of 
the dirty-clothes basket. You know my way, 
dear, when I am at all put out. 1 was Superior, 
crrrrushingly Superior! 'Lifted my eyes to 
Heaven, and had heard of nothing 'dropped my 
eyes on the carpet and ' really didn't know ' 
'played with my cardcase and 'supposed so.' 
The Hawley Boy giggled like a girl, and I had to 
freeze him with scowls between the sentences." 

"And she?" 

" She sat in a heap on the edge of a couch, and 
managed to convey the impression that she was 
suffering from stomach-ache, at the very least. 
It was all I could do not to ask after her symp- 
toms. When I rose she grunted just like a buf- 
falo in the water too lazy to move." 

" Are you certain ? " 

"Am I blind, Polly? Laziness, sheer laziness, 
nothing else or her garments were only con- 



A Second-rate Woman in 

structed for sitting down in. I stayed for a 
quarter of an hour trying to penetrate the gloom, 
to guess what her surroundings were like, while 
she stuck out her tongue." 

"Lu cy!" 

"Well I'll withdraw the tongue, though I'm 
sure if she didn't do it when I was in the room, 
she did the minute I was outside. At any rate, 
she lay in a lump and grunted. Ask the Hawley 
Boy, dear. I believe the grunts were meant for 
sentences, but she spoke so indistinctly that I 
can't swear to it." 

"You are incorrigible, simply." 

"I am not! Treat me civilly, give me peace 
with honor, don't put the only available seat fac- 
ing the window, and a child may eat jam in my 
lap before Church. But I resent being grunted 
at. Wouldn't you? Do you suppose that she 
communicates her views on life and love to The 
Dancing Master in a set of modulated ' Grmphs ' ? " 

"You attach too much importance to The 
Dancing Master." 

" He came as we went, and The Dowd grew 
almost cordial at the sight of him. He smiled 
greasily, and moved about that darkened dog- 
kennel in a suspiciously familiar way." 

"Don't be uncharitable. Any sin but that I'll 
forgive." 

"Listen to the voice of History. I am only 



112 A Second-rate Woman 

describing what I saw. He entered, the heap on 
the sofa revived slightly, and the Hawley Boy and 
I came away together. He is disillusioned, but I 
felt it my duty to lecture him severely for going 
there. And that's all." 

"Now for Pity's sake leave the wretched crea- 
ture and The Dancing Master alone. They never 
did you any harm." 

"No harm? To dress as an example and a 
stumbling-block for half Simla, and then to find 
this Person who is dressed by the hand of God 
not that I wish to disparage Him for a moment, 
but you know the tikka dhurrie way He attires 
those lilies of the field this Person draws the 
eyes of men and some of them nice men ? It's 
almost enough to make one discard clothing. I 
told the Hawley Boy so." 

"And what did that sweet youth do ?" 

"Turned shell-pink and looked across the far 
blue hills like a distressed cherub. Am I talking 
wildly, Polly ? Let me say my say, and I shall 
be calm. Otherwise I may go abroad and dis- 
turb Simla with a few original reflections. Ex- 
cepting always your own sweet self, there isn't 
a single woman in the land who understands me 
when I am what's the word ? " 

" Tete-ftt6e" suggested Mrs. Mallowe. 

"Exactly! And now let us have tiffin The 
demands of Society are exhausting, and as Mrs. 



A Second-rate Woman \\$ 

Delville says" Here Mrs. Hauksbee, to the 
horror of the hhitmatgars, lapsed into a series of 
grunts, while Mrs. Mallowe stared in lazy surprise. 

"'God gie us a gude conceit of oorselves," 1 
said Mrs. Hauksbee, piously, returning to her nat- 
ural speech. "Now, in any other woman that 
would have been vulgar. I am consumed with 
curiosity to see Mrs. Bent. I expect complica- 
tions." 

"Woman of one idea," said Mrs. Mallowe, 
shortly; "all complications are as old as the 
hills ! I have lived through or near all all ALL! " 

"And yet do not understand that men and 
women never behave twice alike. I am old who 
was young if ever I put my head in your lap, 
you dear, big sceptic, you will learn that my 
parting is gauze but never, no never, have I lost 
my interest in men and women. Polly, I shall 
see this business out to the bitter end." 

"I am going to sleep," said Mrs. Mallowe, 
calmly. "I never interfere with men or women 
unless I am compelled," and she retired with 
dignity to her own room. 

Mrs. Hauksbee's curiosity was not long left 
ungratified, for Mrs. Bent came up to Simla a 
few days after the conversation faithfully re- 
ported above, and pervaded the Mall by her hus- 
band's side. 

"Behold!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, thoughtfully 



114 A Second-rate Woman 

rubbing her nose. "That is the last link of the 
chain, if we omit the husband of the Delville, 
whoever he may be. Let me consider. The 
Bents and the Delvilles inhabit the same hotel; 
and the Delville is detested by the Waddy do 
you know the Waddy ? who is almost as big a 
dowd. The Waddy also abominates the male 
Bent, for which, if her other sins do not weigh 
too heavily, she will eventually go to Heaven." 

"Don't be irreverent," said Mrs. Mallowe, "I 
like Mrs. Bent's face." 

"I am discussing the Waddy," returned Mrs. 
Hauksbee, loftily. "The Waddy will take the 
female Bent apart, after having borrowed yes ! 
everything that she can, from hairpins to babies' 
bottles. Such, my dear, is life in a hotel. The 
Waddy will tell the female Bent facts and fictions 
about The Dancing Master and The Dowd." 

" Lucy, I should like you better if you were not 
always looking into people's back-bed-rooms." 

"Anybody can look into their front drawing- 
rooms; and remember whatever I do, and what- 
ever I look, I never talk as the Waddy will. 
Let us hope that The Dancing Master's greasy 
smile and manner of the pedagogue will soften 
the heart of that cow, his wife. If mouths speak 
truth, I should think that little Mrs. Bent could 
get very angry on occasion." 

41 But what reason has she for being angry ?" 



A Second-rate Woman 115 

"What reason! The Dancing Master in him- 
self is a reason. How does it go ? ' If in his 
life some trivial errors fall, Look in his face and 
you'll believe them all.' I am prepared to credit 
any evil of The Dancing Master, because I hate 
him so. And The Dowd is so disgustingly badly 
dressed " 

"That she, too, is capable of every iniquity? 
I always prefer to believe the best of everybody. 
It saves so much trouble." 

"Very good. I prefer to believe the worst. 
It saves useless expenditure of sympathy. And 
you may be quite certain that the Waddy believes 
with me." 

Mrs. Mallowe sighed and made no answer. 

The conversation was holden after dinner 
while Mrs. Hauksbee was dressing for a dance. 

" I am too tired to go," pleaded Mrs. Mallowe, 
and Mrs. Hauksbee left her in peace till two in 
the morning, when she was aware of emphatic 
knocking at her door. 

" Don't be -very angry, dear," said Mrs. Hauks- 
bee. " My idiot of an ayah has gone home, and, 
as I hope to sleep to-night, there isn't a soul in 
the place to unlace me." 

"Oh, this is too bad!" said Mrs. Mallowe, 
sulkily. 

" 'Can't help it. I'm a lone, lorn grass-widow, 
dear, but I will not sleep in my stays. And such 



n6 A Second-rate Woman 

news, too! Oh, do unlace me, there's a darling! 
The Dowd The Dancing Master I and the 
Hawley Boy You know the North veranda ?" 

"How can I do anything if you spin round 
like this?" protested Mrs. Mallowe, fumbling 
with the knot of the laces. 

"Oh, I forget. I must tell my tale without the 
aid of your eyes. Do you know you've lovely 
eyes, dear? Well, to begin with, I took the 
Hawley Boy to a hala juggah." 

" Did he want much taking ? " 

"Lots! There was an arrangement of loose- 
boxes in kanats, and she was in the next one 
talking to him." 

"Which? How? Explain." 

"You know what I mean The Dowd and 
The Dancing Master We could hear every word, 
and we listened shamelessly 'specially the Haw- 
lew Boy. Polly, I quite love that woman!" 

" This is interesting. There! Now turn round. 
What happened?" 

"One moment. Ah h! Blessed relief. I've 
been looking forward to taking them off for the 
last half-hour which is ominous at my time of 
life. But, as I was saying, we listened and heard 
The Dowd drawl worse than ever. She drops 
her final g's like a barmaid or a blue-blooded 
Aide-de-Camp. ' Look he-ere, you're gettin' 
too fond o' me,' she said, and The Dancing Mas- 



A Second-rate Woman 117 

ter owned it was so in language that nearly made 
me ill. The Dowd reflected for a while. Then 
we heard her say, 'Look he-ere, Mister Bent, 
why are you such an aw-ful liar ? ' I nearly ex- 
ploded while The Dancing Master denied the 
charge. It seems that he never told her he was 
a married man." 

"I said he wouldn't." 

" And she had taken this to heart, on personal 
grounds, I suppose. She drawled along for five 
minutes, reproaching him with his perfidy and 
grew quite motherly. ' Now you've got a nice 
little wife of your own you have,' she said. 
' She's ten times too good for a fat old man like 
you, and, look he-ere, you never told me a word 
about her, and I've been thinkin' about it a good 
deal, and I think you're a liar.' Wasn't that de- 
licious ? The Dancing Master maundered and 
raved till the Hawley Boy suggested that he 
should burst in and beat him. His voice runs up 
into an impassioned squeak when he is afraid. 
The Dowd must be an extraordinary woman. 
She explained that had he been a bachelor she 
might not have objected to his devotion ; but 
since he was a married man and the father of a 
very nice baby, she considered him a hypocrite, 
and this she repeated twice. She wound up her 
drawl with : ' An' I'm tellin' you this because 
your wife is angry with me, an' I hate quarreilin' 



n8 A Second-rate Woman 

with any other woman, an' I like your wife. 
You know how you have behaved for the last 
six weeks. You shouldn't have done it, indeed 
you shouldn't. You're too old an' too fat.' 
Can't you imagine how The Dancing Master 
would wince at that! ' Now go away,' she said. 
' I don't want to tell you what I think of you, 
because I think you are not nice. I'll stay he-ere 
till the next dance begins.' Did you think that 
the creature had so much in her?" 

"I never studied her as closely as you did. It 
sounds unnatural. What happened?" 

"The Dancing Master attempted blandish- 
ment, reproof, jocularity, and the style of the 
Lord High Warden, and I had almost to pinch 
the Hawley Boy to make him keep quiet. She 
grunted at the end of each sentence and, in the 
end he went away swearing to himself, quite 
like a man in a novel. He looked more objec- 
tionable than ever. I laughed. I love that 
woman in spite of her clothes. And now I'm 
going to bed. What do you think of it ? " 

"I sha'n't begin to think till the morning," said 
Mrs. Mallowe, yawning. " Perhaps she spoke 
the truth. They do fly into it by accident some- 
times." 

Mrs. Hauksbee's account of her eavesdropping 
was an ornate one but truthful in the main. 
For reasons best known to herself, Mrs. "Shady" 




Copyright, 1899, by H. M. Caldwell Co. 

" ' You're too old an' too fat.' " 



A Second-rate Woman 119 

Delville had turned upon Mr. Bent and rent him 
limb from limb, casting him away limp and dis- 
concerted ere she withdrew the light of her eyes 
from him permanently. Being a man of resource, 
and anything but pleased in that he had been 
called both old and fat, he gave Mrs. Bent to un- 
derstand that he had, during her absence in the 
Doon, been the victim of unceasing persecution 
at the hands of Mrs. Delville, and he told the tale 
so often and with such eloquence that he ended 
in believing it, while his wife marvelled at the 
manners and customs of "some women." 
When the situation showed signs of languishing, 
Mrs. Waddy was always on hand to wake the 
smouldering fires of suspicion in Mrs. Bent's 
bosom and to contribute generally to the peace 
and comfort of the hotel. Mr. Bent's life was 
not a happy one, for if Mrs. Waddy's story were 
true, he, was, argued his wife, untrustworthy to 
the last degree. If his own statement was true, 
his charms of manner and conversation were so 
great that he needed constant surveillance. And 
he received it, till he repented genuinely of his 
marriage and neglected his personal appearance. 
Mrs. Delville alone in the hotel was unchanged. 
She removed her chair some six paces toward 
the head of the table, and occasionally in the 
twilight ventured on timid overtures of friend- 
ship to Mrs. Bent, which were repulsed. 



I2O A Second-rate Woman 

" She does it for my sake," hinted the virtuous 
Bent. 

"A dangerous and designing woman," purred 
Mrs. Waddy. 

Worst of all, every other hotel in Simla was 
fulll 



" Polly, are you afraid of diphtheria ?" 

"Of nothing in the world except smallpox. 
Diphtheria kills, but it doesn't disfigure. Why 
do you ask ? " 

"Because the Bent baby has got it, and the 
whole hotel is upside down in consequence. The 
Waddy has "set her five young on the rail " and 
fled. The Dancing Master fears for his precious 
throat, and that miserable little woman, his wife, 
has no notion of what ought to be done. She 
wanted to put it into a mustard bath for 
croup!" 

" Where did you learn all this ? " 

" Just now, on the Mall. Dr. Howlen told me. 
The Manager of the hotel is abusing the Bents, 
and the Bents are abusing the manager. They 
are a feckless couple." 

" Well. What's on your mind ? " 

"This; and I know it's a grave thing to ask. 
Would you seriously object to my bringing the 
child over here, with its mother?" 



A Second-rate Woman 121 

11 On the most strict understanding that we see 
nothing of The Dancing Master." 

" He will be only too glad to stay away. 
Polly, you're an angel. The woman really is at 
her wits' end." 

"And you know nothing about her, careless, 
and would hold her up to public scorn if it gave 
you a minute's amusement. Therefore you risk 
your life for the sake of her brat. No, Loo, I'm 
not the angel. I shall keep to my rooms and 
avoid her. But do as you please only tell me 
why you do it." 

Mrs. Hauksbee's eyes softened; she looked out 
of the window and back into Mrs. Mallowe's 
face. 

"I don't know," said Mrs. Hauksbee, simply. 

"You dear!" 

"Polly! and for aught you knew you might 
have taken my fringe off. Never do that again 
without warning. Now we'll get the rooms 
ready. I don't suppose I shall be allowed to cir- 
culate in society for a month." 

"And I also. Thank goodness I shall at last 
get all the sleep I want." 

Much to Mrs. Bent's surprise she and the baby 
were brought over to the house almost before she 
knew where she was. Bent was devoutly and 
undisguisedly thankful, for he was afraid of the 
infection, and also hoped that a few weeks in the 



122 A Second-rate Woman 

hotel alone with Mrs. Delville might lead to ex- 
planations. Mrs. Bent had thrown her jealousy 
to the winds in her fear for her child's life. 

"We can give you good milk," said Mrs. 
Hauksbee to her, "and our house is much nearer 
to the Doctor's than the hotel, and you won't feel 
as though you were living in a hostile camp. 
Where is the dear Mrs. Waddy ? She seemed to 
be a particular friend of yours." 

"They've all left me," said Mrs. Bent, bitterly. 
" Mrs. Waddy went first. She said I ought to be 
ashamed of myself for introducing diseases there, 
and I am sure it wasn't my fault that little 
Dora " 

"How nice!" cooed Mrs. Hauksbee. "The 
Waddy is an infectious disease herself 'more 
quickly caught than the plague and the taker runs 
presently mad.' I lived next door to her at the 
Elysium, three years ago. Now see, you won't 
give us the least trouble, and I've ornamented all 
the house with sheets soaked in carbolic. It 
smells comforting, doesn't it ? Remember I'm al- 
ways in call, and my ayah's at your service when 
yours goes to her meals and and if you cry I'll 
never forgive you." 

Dora Bent occupied her mother's unprofitable 
attention through the day and the night. The 
Doctor called thrice in the twenty-four hours, and 
the house reeked with the smell of the Condy's 



A Second-rate Woman 123 

Fluid, chlorine-water, and carbolic acid washes. 
Mrs. Mallowe kept to her own rooms she con- 
sidered that she had made sufficient concessions 
in the cause of humanity and Mrs. Hauksbee 
was more esteemed by the Doctor as a help in 
the sick-room than the half-distraught mother. 

"I know nothing of illness," said Mrs. Hauks- 
bee to the Doctor. "Only tell me what to do, 
and I'll do it." 

"Keep that crazy woman from kissing the 
child, and let her have as little to do with the 
nursing as you possibly can," said the Doctor; 
"I'd turn her out of the sick-room, but that I 
honestly believe she'd die of anxiety. She is less 
than no good, and I depend on you and the 
ayahs, remember." 

Mrs. Hauksbee accepted the responsibility, 
though it painted olive hollows under her eyes 
and forced her to her oldest dresses. Mrs. Bent 
clung to her with more than childlike faith. 

" 1 know you'll make Dora well, won't you ? " 
she said at least twenty times a day; and twenty 
times a day Mrs. Hauksbee answered valiantly, 
"Of course I will." 

But Dora did not improve, and the Doctor 
seemed to be always in the house. 

"There's some danger of the thing taking a bad 
turn," he said ; " I'll come over between three and 
four in the morning to-morrow." 



124 A Second-rate Woman 

"Good gracious!" said Mrs. Hauksbee. "He 
never told me what the turn would be! My 
education has been horribly neglected; and I 
have only this foolish mother-woman to fall back 
upon." 

The night wore through slowly, and Mrs. 
Hauksbee dozed in a chair by the fire. There 
was a dance at the Viceregal Lodge, and she 
dreamed of it till she was aware of Mrs. Bent's 
anxious eyes staring into her own. 

"Wake up! Wake up! Do something!" 
cried Mrs. Bent, piteously. "Dora's choking to 
death ! Do you mean to let her die ? " 

Mrs. Hauksbee jumped to her feet and bent 
over the bed. The child was fighting for breath, 
while the mother wrung her hands despairing. 

"Oh, what can I do? What can you do? 
She won't stay still! I can't hold her. Why 
didn't the Doctor say this was coming?" 
screamed Mrs. Bent. " Won't you help me ? 
She's dying! " 

" I I've never seen a child die before! " stam- 
mered Mrs. Hauksbee, feebly, and then let none 
blame her weakness after the strain of long 
watching she broke down, and covered her face 
with her hands. The ayahs on the threshold 
snored peacefully. 

There was a rattle of 'rickshaw wheels below, 
the clash of an opening door, a heavy step on the 



A Second-rate Woman 125 

stairs, and Mrs. Delville entered to find Mrs. Bent 
screaming for the Doctor as she ran round the 
room. Mrs. Hauksbee, her hands to her ears, 
and her face buried in the chintz of a chair, was 
quivering with pain at each cry from the bed, 
and murmuring, "Thank God, I never bore a 
child! Oh! thank God, I never bore a child! " 

Mrs. Delville looked at the bed for an instant, 
took Mrs. Bent by the shoulders, and said, quietly, 
" Get me some caustic. Be quick." 

The mother obeyed mechanically. Mrs. Del- 
ville had thrown herself down by the side of the 
child and was opening its mouth. 

"Oh, you're killing her!" cried Mrs. Bent. 
"Where's the Doctor ? Leave her alone! " 

Mrs. Delville made no reply for a minute, but 
busied herself with the child. 

"Now the caustic, and hold a lamp behind my 
shoulder. Will you do as you are told ? The 
acid-bottle, if you don't know what I mean," she 
said. 

A second time Mrs. Delville bent over the child. 
Mrs. Hauksbee, her face still hidden, sobbed and 
shivered. One of the ayahs staggered sleepily 
into the room, yawning: " Doctor Sahib come." 

Mrs. Delville turned her head. 

" You're only just in time," she said. " It was 
chokin' her when I came an' I've burned it." 

" There was no sign of the membrane getting 



126 A Second-rate Woman 

to the air-passages after the last steaming. It 
was the general weakness, 1 feared," said the 
Doctor half to himself, and he whispered as he 
looked, "You've done what I should have been 
afraid to do without consultation." 

"She was dyin'," said Mrs. Delville, under her 
breath. " Can you do anythin' ? What a mercy 
it was I went to the dance! " 

Mrs. Hauksbee raised her head. 

"Is it all over?" she gasped. "I'm useless 
I'm worse than useless! What are you doing 
here ? " 

She stared at Mrs. Delville, and Mrs. Bent, real- 
izing for the first time who was the Goddess from 
the Machine, stared also. 

Then Mrs. Delville made explanation, putting 
on a dirty long glove and smoothing a crumpled 
and ill-fitting ball-dress. 

"I was at the dance, an' the Doctor was tellin' 
me about your baby bein' so ill. So I came away 
early, an' your door was open, an' I I lost my 
boy this way six months ago, an' I've been tryin' 
to forget it ever since, an' I I I am very sorry 
for intrudin' an' anythin' that has happened." 

Mrs. Bent was putting out the Doctor's eye 
with a lamp as he stooped over Dora. 

"Take it away," said the Doctor. "I think 
the child will do, thanks to you, Mrs. Delville. / 
should have come too late, but, I assure you " 



A Second-rate Woman 127 

he was addressing himself to Mrs. Delville "I 
had not the faintest reason to expect this. The 
membrane must have grown like a mushroom. 
Will one of you help me, please ? " 

He had reason for the last sentence. Mrs. 
Hauksbee had thrown herself into Mrs. Delville's 
arms, where she was weeping bitterly, and Mrs. 
Bent was unpicturesquely mixed up with both, 
while from the- tangle came the sound of many 
sobs and much promiscuous kissing. 

" Good gracious! I've spoilt all your beautiful 
roses!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, lifting her head 
from the lump of crushed gum and calico atroci- 
ties on Mrs. Delville's shoulder and hurrying to 
the Doctor. 

Mrs. Delville picked up her shawl, and slouched 
out of the room, mopping her eyes with the 
glove that she had not put on. 

"I always said she was more than a woman," 
sobbed Mrs. Hauksbee, hysterically, "and that 
proves it!" 



Six weeks later, Mrs. Bent and Dora had re- 
turned to the hotel. Mrs. Hauksbee had come 
out of the Valley of Humiliation, had ceased to 
reproach herself for her collapse in an hour of 
need, and was even beginning to direct the affairs 
of the world as before. 



128 A Second-rate Woman 

" So nobody died, and everything went off as 
it should, and I kissed The Dowd, Polly. I feel 
so old. Does it show in my face ? " 

" Kisses don't as a rule, do they ? Of course 
you know what the result of The Dowd's provi- 
dential arrival has been." 

"They ought to build her a statue only no 
sculptor dare copy those skirts." 

"Ah!" said Mrs. Mallowe, quietly. "She has 
found another reward. The Dancing Master has 
been smirking through Simla, giving every one to 
understand that she came because of her undy- 
ing love for him for him to save his child, and 
all Simla naturally believes this." 

"But Mrs. Bent" 

" Mrs. Bent believes it more than any one else. 
She won't speak to The Dowd now. Isn't The 
Dancing Master an angel ? " 

Mrs. Hauksbee lifted up her voice and raged 
till bedtime. The doors of the two rooms stood 
open. 

" Polly," said a voice from the darkness, " what 
did that American-heiress-globe-trotter girl say 
last season when she was tipped out of her 'rick- 
shaw turning a corner? Some absurd adjec- 
tive that made the man who picked her up ex- 
plode." 

'"Paltry/" said Mrs. Mallowe. "Through 
her nose like this ' Ha-ow pahltry 1 ' " 



A Second-rate Woman 129 

" Exactly," said the voice. " Ha-ow pahltry it 
all is!" 

"Which?" 

"Everything. Babies, Diphtheria, Mrs. Bent 
and The Dancing Master, I whooping in a chair, 
and The Dowd dropping in from the clouds. I 
wonder what the motive was all the motives." 

"Urn!" 

"What do you think?" 

" Don't ask me. Go to sleep." 



ONLY A SUBALTERN 



ONLY A SUBALTERN 

. . . Not only to enforce by command but to encourage 
by example the energetic discharge of duty and the steady 
endurance of the difficulties and privations inseparable from 
Military Service. Bengal Army Regulations. 

THEY made Bobby Wick pass an examination 
at Sandhurst. He was a gentleman before 
he was gazetted, so, when the Empress an- 
nounced that " Gentleman-Cadet Robert Hanna 
Wick " was posted as Second Lieutenant to the 
Tyneside Tail Twisters at Krab Bokhar, he be- 
came an officer and a gentleman, which is an 
enviable thing ; and there was joy in the house 
of Wick where Mamma Wick and all the little 
Wicks fell upon their knees and offered incense 
to Bobby by virtue of his achievements. 

Papa Wick had been a Commissioner in his 
day, holding authority over three millions of men 
in the Chota-Buldana Division, building great 
works for the good of the land, and doing his 
best to make two blades of grass grow where 
there was but one before. Of course, nobody 
knew anything about this in the little English 
village where he was just "old Mr. Wick" and 
133 



134 Only a Subaltern 

had forgotten that he was a Companion of the 
Order of the Star of India. 

He patted Bobby on the shoulder and said: 
"Well done, my boy!" 

There followed, while the uniform was being 
prepared, an interval of pure delight, during 
which Bobby took brevet-rank as a "man" at 
the women-swamped tennis-parties and tea- 
fights of the village, and, I dare say, had his join- 
ing-time been extended, would have fallen in 
love with several girls at once. Little country 
villages at Home are very full of nice girls, be- 
cause all the young men come out to India to 
make their fortunes. 

"India," said Papa Wick, "is the place. I've 
had thirty years of it and, begad, I'd like to go 
back again. When you join the Tail Twisters 
you'll be among friends, if every one hasn't for- 
gotten Wick of Chota-Buldana, and a lot of peo- 
ple will be kind to you for our sakes. The 
mother will tell you more about outfit than I 
can, but remember this. Stick to your Regi- 
ment, Bobby stick to your Regiment. You'll 
see men all round you going into the Staff Corps, 
and doing every possible sort of duty but regi- 
mental, and you may be tempted to follow suit. 
Now so long as you keep within your allowance, 
and I haven't stinted you there, stick to the Line, 
the whole Line and nothing but the Line. Be 



Only a Subaltern 135 

careful how you back another young fool's bill, 
and if you fall in love with a woman twenty 
years older than yourself, don't tell me about it, 
that's all." 

With these counsels, and many others equally 
valuable, did Papa Wick fortify Bobby ere that 
last awful night at Portsmouth when the Officers' 
Quarters held more inmates than were provided 
for by the Regulations, and the liberty-men of 
the ships fell foul of the drafts for India, and the 
battle raged from the Dockyard Gates even to the 
slums of Longport, while the drabs of Fratton 
came down and scratched the faces of the Queen's 
Officers. 

Bobby Wick, with an ugly bruise on his 
freckled nose, a sick and shaky detachment to 
manoeuvre inship and the comfort of fifty scorn- 
ful females to attend to, had no time to feel 
homesick till the Malabar reached mid-Channel, 
when he doubled his emotions with a little 
guard-visiting and a great many other matters. 

The Tail Twisters were a most particular 
Regiment. Those who knew them least said 
that they were eaten up with " side." But their 
reserve and their internal arrangements generally 
were merely protective diplomacy. Some five 
years before, the Colonel commanding had looked 
into the fourteen fearless eyes of seven plump 
and juicy subalterns who had all applied to enter 



136 Only a Subaltern 

the Staff Corps, and had asked them why the 
three stars should he, a colonel of the Line, com- 
mand a dashed nursery for double-dashed bottle- 
suckers who put on condemned tin spurs and 
rode qualified mokes at the hiatused heads of for- 
saken Black Regiments. He was a rude man and 
a terrible. Wherefore the remnant took meas- 
ures [with the half-butt as an engine of public 
opinion] till the rumor went abroad that young 
men who used the Tail Twisters as a crutch to 
the Staff Corps, had many and varied trials to en- 
dure. However, a regiment had just as much 
right to its own secrets as a woman. 

When Bobby came up from Deolali and took 
his place among the Tail Twisters, it was gently 
but firmly borne in upon him that the Regiment 
was his father and his mother and his indissolubly 
wedded wife, and that there was no crime under 
the canopy of heaven blacker than that of bring- 
ing shame on the Regiment, which was the best- 
shooting, best-drilled, best set-up, bravest, most 
illustrious, and in all respects most desirable 
Regiment within the compass of the Seven Seas. 
He was taught the legends of the Mess Plate, 
from the great grinning Golden Gods that had 
come out of the Summer Palace in Pekin to the 
silver-mounted markhorhorn snuff-mull pre- 
sented by the last C. O. [he who spake to the 
seven subalterns]. And every one of those 



Only a Subaltern 137 

legends told him of battles fought at long odds, 
without fear as without support; of hospitality 
catholic as an Arab's; of friendships deep as the 
sea and steady as the fighting-line; of honor won 
by hard roads for honor's sake; and of instant 
and unquestioning devotion to the Regiment 
the Regiment that claims the lives of all and lives 
forever. 

More than once, too, he came officially into 
contact with the Regimental colors, which looked 
like the lining of a bricklayer's hat on the end of 
a chewed stick. Bobby did not kneel and wor- 
ship them, because British subalterns are not con- 
structed in that manner. Indeed, he condemned 
them for their weight at the very moment that 
they were filling with awe and other more noble 
sentiments. 

But best of all was the occasion when he 
moved with the Tail Twisters in review order at 
the breaking of a November day. Allowing for 
duty-men and sick, the Regiment was one thou- 
sand and eighty strong, and Bobby belonged to 
them ; for was he not a Subaltern of the Line 
the whole Line and nothing but the Line as the 
tramp of two thousand one hundred and sixty 
sturdy ammunition boots attested ? He would 
not have changed places with Deighton of the 
Horse Battery, whirling by in a pillar of cloud to 
a chorus of "Strong right! Strong left!" or 



138 Only a Subaltern 

Hogan-Yale of the White Hussars, leading his 
squadron for all it was worth, with the price of 
horseshoes thrown in; or "Tick" Boileau, try- 
ing to live up to his fierce blue and gold turban 
while the wasps of the Bengal Cavalry stretched 
to a gallop in the wake of the long, lollopping 
Walers of the White Hussars. 

They fought through the clear cool day, and 
Bobby felt a little thrill run down his spine when 
he heard the tinkle-tinhle-tinkle of the empty car- 
tridge-cases hopping from the breech-blocks after 
the roar of the volleys; for he knew that he 
should live to hear that sound in action. The re- 
view ended in a glorious chase across the plain 
batteries thundering after cavalry to the huge 
disgust of the White Hussars, and the Tyneside 
Tail Twisters hunting a Sikh Regiment, till the 
lean lathy Singhs panted with exhaustion. 
Bobby was dusty and dripping long before noon, 
but his enthusiasm was merely focused not di- 
minished. 

He returned to sit at the feet of Revere, his 
"skipper," that is to say, the Captain of his 
Company, and to be instructed in the dark art 
and mystery of managing men, which is a very 
large part of the Profession of Arms. 

" If you haven't a taste that way," said Revere, 
between his puffs of his cheroot, "you'll never 
be able to get the hang of it, but remember, 



Only a Subaltern 139 

Bobby, 'tisn't the best drill, though drill is nearly 
everything, that hauls a Regiment through Hell 
and out on the other side. It's the man who 
knows how to handle men goat-men, swine- 
men, dog-men, and so on." 

"Dormer, for instance," said Bobby, "I think 
he comes under the head of fool-men. He mopes 
like a sick owl." 

' ' That's where you make your mistake, my son. 
Dormer isn't a fool yet, but he's a dashed dirty 
soldier, and his room corporal makes fun of his 
socks before kit-inspection. Dormer, being two- 
thirds pure brute, goes into a corner and growls." 

" How do you know ? " said Bobby, admiringly. 

" Because a Company commander has to know 
these things because, if he does not know, he 
may have crime ay, murder brewing under 
his very nose and yet not see that it's there. 
Dormer is being badgered out of his mind big 
as he is and he hasn't intellect enough to resent 
it. He's taken to quiet boozing and, Bobby, 
when the butt of a room goes on the drink, or 
takes to moping by himself, measures are neces- 
sary to pull him out of himself." 

" What measures ? 'Man can't run round cod- 
dling his men forever." 

"No. The men would precious soon show 
him that he was not wanted. You've got to " 

Here the Color-sergeant entered with some 



140 Only a Subaltern 

papers; Bobby reflected for a while as Revere 
looked through the Company forms. 

"Does Dormer do anything, Sergeant?" 
Bobby asked, with the air of one continuing an 
interrupted conversation. 

"No, sir. Does 'is dooty like a hortomato," 
said the Sergeant, who delighted in long words. 
"A dirty soldier, and 'e's under full stoppages 
for new kit. It's covered with scales, sir." 

" Scales ? What scales ? " 

"Fish-scales, sir. 'E's always pokin' in the 
mud by the river an' a-cleanin' them muchly-fish 
with 'is thumbs." Revere was still absorbed in 
the Company papers, and the Sergeant, who was 
sternly fond of Bobby, continued, " 'E generally 
goes down there when 'e's got 'is skinful, beggin' 
your pardon, sir, an' they do say that the more 
lush in-^-briated 'e is, the more fish 'e catches. 
They call 'im the Looney Fishmonger in the Com- 
p'ny, sir." 

Revere signed the last paper and the Sergeant 
retreated. 

"It's a filthy amusement," sighed Bobby to 
himself. Then aloud to Revere: "Are you really 
worried about Dormer ? " 

"A little. You see he's never mad enough to 
send to hospital, or drunk enough to run in, but 
at any minute he may flare up, brooding and 
sulking as he does. He resents any interest be- 



Only a Subaltern 141 

ing shown in him, and the only time I took him 
out shooting he all but shot me by accident." 

" I fish," said Bobby, with a wry face. " I 
hire a country-boat and go down the river from 
Thursday to Sunday, and the amiable Dormer 
goes with me if you can spare us both." 

"You blazing young fool!" said Revere, but 
his heart was full of much more pleasant words. 

Bobby, the Captain of a dhoni, with Private 
Dormer for mate, dropped down the river on 
Thursday morning the Private at the bow, the 
Subaltern at the helm. The Private glared un- 
easily at the Subaltern, who respected the reserve 
of the Private. 

After six hours, Dormer paced to the stern, 
saluted, and said " Beg y' pardon, sir, but was 
you ever on the Durh'm Canal?" 

"No, "said Bobby Wick. "Come and have 
some tiffin." 

They ate in silence. As the evening fell, Pri- 
vate Dormer broke forth, speaking to himself 

" Hi was on the Durh'm Canal, jes' such a 
night, come next week twelve month, a-trailin' 
of my toes in the water." He smoked and said 
no more till bedtime. 

The witchery of the dawn turned the grey 
river-reaches to purple, gold, and opal; and it 
was as though the lumbering dhoni crept across 
the splendors of a new heaven. 



142 Only a Subaltern 

Private Dormer popped his head out of his 
blanket and gazed at the glory below and around. 

"Well damn my eyes! "said Private Dor- 
mer, in an awed whisper. "This 'ere is like a 
bloomin' gallantry-show!" For the rest of the 
day he was dumb, but achieved an ensanguined 
filthiness through the cleaning of big fish. 

The boat returned on Saturday evening. Dor- 
mer had been struggling with speech since noon. 
As the lines and luggage were being disem- 
barked, he found tongue. 

" Beg y' pardon, sir," he said, "but would you 
would you min' shakin' 'ands with me, sir?" 

"Of course not," said Bobby, and he shook 
accordingly. Dormer returned to barracks and 
Bobby to mess. 

"He wanted a little quiet and some fishing, I 
think," said Bobby. "My aunt, but he's a filthy 
sort of animal! Have you ever seen him clean 
' them, muchly-fish with 'is thumbs ' ? " 

"Anyhow," said Revere, three weeks later, 
" he's doing his best to keep his things clean." 

When the spring died, Bobby joined in the 
general scramble for Hill leave, and to his sur^ 
prise and delight secured three months. 

"As good a boy as I want," said Revere, the 
admiring skipper. 

" The best of the batch," said the Adjutant to 
the Colonel. "Keep back that young skrim- 



Only a Subaltern 143 

shanker Porkiss, sir, and let Revere make him sit 
up." 

So Bobby departed joyously to Simla Pahar 
with a tin box of gorgeous raiment. 

"'Son of Wick old Wick of Chota-Buldana ? 
Ask him to dinner, dear," said the aged men. 

" What a nice boy ! " said the matrons and the 
maids. 

"First-class place, Simla. Oh, ri ipping!" 
said Bobby Wick, and ordered new white cord 
breeches on the strength of it. 

"We're in a bad way," wrote Revere to Bobby 
at the end of two months. " Since you left, the 
Regiment has taken to fever and is fairly rotten 
with it two hundred in hospital, about a hun- 
dred in cells drinking to keep off fever and the 
Companies on parade fifteen file strong at the 
outside. There's rather more sickness in the 
out-villages than I care for, but then I'm so blis- 
tered with prickly-heat that I'm ready to hang 
myself. What's the yarn about your mashing a 
Miss Haverley up there ? Not serious, I hope ? 
You're over-young to hang millstones round your 
neck, and the Colonel will turf you out of that in 
double-quick time if you attempt it." 

It was not the Colonel that brought Bobby out 
of Simla, but a much more to be respected 
Commandant. The sickness in the out-villages 
spread, the Bazar was put out of bounds, and 



144 Only a Subaltern 

then came the news that the Tail Twisters must 
go into camp. The message flashed to the Hill 
stations. "Cholera Leave stopped Officers 
recalled." Alas, for the white gloves in the 
neatly soldered boxes, the rides and the dances 
and picnics that were to be, the loves half 
spoken, and the debts unpaid! Without demur 
and without question, fast as tonga could fly or 
pony gallop, back to their Regiments and their 
Batteries, as though they were hastening to their 
weddings, fled the subalterns. 

Bobby received his orders on returning from a 
dance at Viceregal Lodge where he had but 
only the Haverley girl knows what Bobby had 
said or how many waltzes he had claimed for the 
next ball. Six in the morning saw Bobby at the 
Tonga Office in the drenching rain, the whirl of 
the last waltz still in his ears, and an intoxication 
due neither to wine nor waltzing in his brain. 

"Good man! " shouted Deighton of the Horse 
Battery, through the mists. "Whar you raise 
dat tonga? I'm coming with you. Ow! But 
I've a head and half. / didn't sit out all night. 
They say the Battery's awful bad," and he 
hummed dolorously 

" Leave the what at the what's-its-name, 
Leave the flock without shelter, 
Leave the corpse uninterred, 
Leave the bride at the altar! 



Only a Subaltern 145 

"My faith! It'll be more bally corpse than 
bride, though, this journey. Jump in, Bobby. 
Get on, Coachwan ! " 

On the Umballa platform waited a detachment 
of officers discussing the latest news from the 
stricken cantonment, and it was here that Bobby 
learned the real condition of the Tail Twisters. 

"They went into camp," said an elderly Major 
recalled from the whist-tables at Mussoorie to a 
sickly Native Regiment, "they went into camp 
with two hundred and ten sick in carts. Two 
hundred and ten fever cases only, and the balance 
looking like so many ghosts with sore eyes. A 
Madras Regiment could have walked through 
'em." 

"But they were as fit as be-damned when I 
left them ! " said Bobby. 

"Then you'd better make them as fit as be- 
damned when you rejoin," said the Major, brutally. 

Bobby pressed his forehead against the rain- 
splashed windowpane as the train lumbered 
across the sodden Doab, and prayed for the 
health of the Tyneside Tail Twisters. Naini Tal 
had sent down her contingent with all speed; 
the lathering ponies of the Dalhousie Road stag- 
gered into Pathankot, taxed to the full stretch of 
their strength; while from cloudy Darjiling the 
Calcutta Mail whirled up the last straggler of the 
little army that was to fight a fight, in which was 



146 Only a Subaltern 

neither medal nor honor for the winning, against 
an enemy none other than "the sickness that de- 
stroyeth in the noonday." 

And as each man reported himself, he said: 
"This is a bad business," and went about his 
own forthwith, for every Regiment and Battery 
in the cantonment was under canvas, the sick- 
ness bearing them company. 

Bobby fought his way through the rain to the 
Tail Twisters' temporary mess, and Revere could 
have fallen on the boy's neck for the joy of see- 
ing that ugly, wholesome phiz once more. 

"Keep 'em amused and interested," said Re- 
vere. "They went on the drink, poor fools, 
after the first two cases, and there was no im- 
provement. Oh, it's good to have you back, 
Bobby! Porkiss is a never mind." 

Deighton came over from the Artillery camp to 
attend a dreary mess dinner, and contributed to 
the general gloom by nearly weeping over the 
condition of his beloved Battery. Porkiss so far 
forgot himself as to insinuate that the presence of 
the officers could do no earthly good, and that 
the best thing would be to send the entire Regi- 
ment into hospital and "let the doctors look after 
them." Porkiss was demoralized with fear, nor 
was his peace of mind restored when Revere 
said coldly: "Oh! The sooner you go out the 
better, if that's your way of thinking. Any 



Only a Subaltern 147 

public school could send us fifty good men in 
your place, but it takes time, time, Porkiss, and 
money, and a certain amount of trouble, to make 
a Regiment. 'S'pose you're the person we go 
into camp for, eh?" 

Whereupon Porkiss was overtaken with a 
great and chilly fear which a drenching in the 
rain did not allay, and, two days later, quitted 
this world for another where, men do fondly 
hope, allowances are made for the weaknesses 
of the flesh. The Regimental Sergeant-Major 
looked wearily across the Sergeants' Mess tent 
when the news was announced. 

"There goes the worst of them," he said. 
"It'll take the best, and then, please God, it'll 
stop." The Sergeants were silent till one said: 
"It couldn't be him!" and all knew of whom 
Travis was thinking. 

Bobby Wick stormed through the tents of his 
Company, rallying, rebuking, mildly, as is con- 
sistent with the Regulations, chaffing the faint- 
hearted ; haling the sound into the watery sun- 
light when there was a break in the weather, and 
bidding them be of good cheer for their trouble 
was nearly at an end; scuttling on his dun pony 
round the outskirts of the camp and heading 
back men who, with the innate perversity of 
British soldiers, were always wandering into in- 
fected villages, or drinking deeply from rain- 



148 Only a Subaltern 

flooded marshes; comforting the panic-stricken 
with rude speech, and more than once tending 
the dying who had no friends the men without 
" townies "; organizing, with banjos and burned 
cork, Sing-songs which should allow the talent 
of the Regiment full play; and generally, as he 
explained, "playing the giddy garden-goat all 
round." 

"You're worth a half a dozen of us, Bobby," 
said Revere in a moment of enthusiasmo " How 
the devil do you keep it up ?" 

Bobby made no answer, but had Revere looked 
into the breast-pocket of his coat he might have 
seen there a sheaf of badly-written letters which 
perhaps accounted for the power that possessed 
the boy. A letter came to Bobby every other 
day. The spelling was not above reproach, but 
the sentiments must have been most satisfactory, 
for on receipt Bobby's eyes softened marvel- 
ously, and he was wont to fall into a tender ab- 
straction for a while ere, shaking his cropped 
head, he charged into his work. 

By what power he drew after him the hearts 
of the roughest, and the Tail. Twisters counted in 
their ranks some rough diamonds indeed, was a 
mystery to both skipper and C. O., who learned 
from the regimental chaplain that Bobby was 
considerably more in request in the hospital tents 
than the Reverend John Emery. 



Only a Subaltern 149 

"The men seem fond of you. Are you in 
the hospitals much?" said the Colonel, who did 
his daily round and ordered the men to get 
well with a hardness that did not cover his bitter 
grief. 

"A little, sir," said Bobby. 

"Shouldn't go there too often if I were you. 
They say it's not contagious, but there's no use 
in running unnecessary risks. We can't afford 
to have you down, y' know." 

Six days later, it was with the utmost difficulty 
that the post-runner plashed his way out to the 
camp with the mail-bags, for the rain was falling 
in torrents. Bobby received a letter, bore it off 
to his tent, and, the programme for the next 
week's Sing-song being satisfactorily disposed 
of, sat down to answer it. For an hour the un- 
handy pen toiled over the paper, and where senti- 
ment rose to more than normal tide-level, Bobby 
Wick stuck out his tongue and breathed heavily. 
He was not used to letter-writing. 

"Beg y' pardon, sir," said a voice at the tent 
door; "but Dormer's 'orrid bad, sir, an' they've 
taken him orf, sir." 

"Damn Private Dormer and you too!" said 
Bobby Wick, running the blotter over the half- 
finished letter. "Tell him I'll come in the morn- 
ing." 

"'E's awful bad, sir," said the voice, hesitat- 



150 Only a Subaltern 

ingly. There was an undecided squelching of 
heavy boots. 

"Well?" said Bobby, impatiently. 

" Excusin' 'imself before'and for takin' the 
liberty, 'e says it would be a comfort for to as- 
sist 'im, sir, if" 

" Tattoo lao! Get my pony! Here, come in 
out of the rain till I'm ready. What blasted 
nuisances you are! That's brandy. Drink some; 
you want it. Hang on to my stirrup and tell me 
if I go too fast." 

Strengthened by a four-finger " nip " which he 
swallowed without a wink, the Hospital Orderly 
kept up with the slipping, mud-stained, and very 
disgusted pony as it shambled to the hospital tent. 

Private Dormer was certainly "'orrid bad." 
He had all but reached the stage of collapse and 
was not pleasant to look upon. 

"What's this, Dormer?" said Bobby, bending 
over the man. " You're not going out this time. 
You've got to come fishing with me once or twice 
more yet." 

The blue lips parted and in the ghost of a whis- 
per said, "Beg y' pardon, sir 'disturbin' of you 
now, but would you min' 'oldin' my 'and, sir?" 

Bobby sat on the side of the bed, and the icy 
cold hand closed on his own like a vice, forcing 
a lady's ring which was on the little finger deep 
into the flesh. Bobby set his lips and waited, 




Copyright, 18SJ9, by H. M. CaUlwell Co. 

" Dawn showed a very white-faced subaltern sitting on the 
side of a sick man's cot." 



Only a Subaltern 151 

the water dripping from the hem of his trousers. 
An hour passed and the grasp of the hand did 
not relax, nor did the expression of the drawn 
face change. Bobby with infinite craft lit him- 
self a cheroot with the left hand, his right arm 
was numbed to the elbow, and resigned himself 
to a night of pain. 

Dawn showed a very white-faced Subaltern 
sitting on the side of a sick man's cot, and a 
Doctor in the doorway using language unfit for 
publication. 

" Have you been here all night, you young 
ass ?" said the Doctor. 

"There or thereabouts," said Bobby, ruefully. 
" He's frozen on to me." 

Dormer's mouth shut with a click. He turned 
his head and sighed. The clinging hand opened, 
and Bobby's arrr j fell useless at his side. 

" He'll do," said the Doctor, quietly. " It must 
have been a toss-up all through the night. Think 
you're to be congratulated on this case." 

"Oh, bosh!" said Bobby. "I thought the 
man had gone out long ago only only I didn't 
care to take my hand away. Rub my arm down, 
there's a good chap. What a grip the brute has! 
I'm chilled to the marrow ! " He passed out of 
the tent shivering. 

Private Dormer was allowed to celebrate his 
repulse of Death by strong waters. Four days 



152 Only a Subaltern 

later, he sat on the side of his cot and said to the 
patients mildly: "I'd 'a' liken to 'a' spoken to 
'im so I should." 

But at that time Bobby was reading yet an- 
other letter he had the most persistent corre- 
spondent of any man in camp and was even 
then about to write that the sickness had abated, 
and in another week at the outside would be 
gone. He did not intend to say that the chill of 
a sick man's hand seemed to have struck into the 
heart whose capacities for affection he dwelt on 
at such length. He did intend to enclose the 
illustrated programme of the forthcoming Sing- 
song whereof he was not a little proud. He 
also intended to write on many other matters 
which do not concern us, and doubtless would 
have done so but for the slight feverish head- 
ache which made him dull and unresponsive at 
mess. 

"You are overdoing it, Bobby," said his skip- 
per. " 'Might give the rest of us credit of doing 
a little work. You go on as if you were the 
whole Mess rolled into one. Take it easy." 

"I will," said Bobby. "I'm feeling done up, 
somehow." Revere looked at him anxiously and 
said nothing. 

There was a flickering of lanterns about the 
camp that night, and a rumor that brought men 
out of their cots to the tent doors, a paddling of 



Only a Subaltern 153 

the naked feet of doolie-bearers and the rush of 
a galloping horse. 

" Wot's up ?" asked twenty tents; and through 
twenty tents ran the answer " Wick, 'e's down." 

They brought the news to Revere and he 
groaned. "Any one but Bobby and I shouldn't 
have cared! The Sergeant-Major was right." 

"Not going out this journey," gasped Bobby, 
as he was lifted from the doolie. "Not going 
out this journey." Then with an air of supreme 
conviction "I can't, you see." 

" Not if I can do anything! " said the Surgeon- 
Major, who had hastened over from the mess 
where he had been dining. 

He and the Regimental Surgeon fought together 
with Death for the life of Bobby Wick. Their 
work was interrupted by a hairy apparition in a 
blue-grey dressing-gown who stared in horror at 
the bed and cried "Oh, my Gawd! It can't be 
'im ! " until an indignant Hospital Orderly whisked 
him away. 

If care of man and desire to live could have 
done aught, Bobby would have been saved. As 
it was, he made a fight of three days, and the 
Surgeon-Major's brow uncreased. "We'll save 
him yet," he said; and the Surgeon, who, though 
he ranked with the Captain, had a very youthful 
heart, went out upon the word and pranced joy- 
ously in the mud. 



154 Only a Subaltern 

"Not going out this journey," whispered 
Bobby Wick, gallantly, at the end of the third 
day. 

"Bravo!" said the Surgeon-Major. "That's 
the way to look at it, Bobby." 

As evening fell a grey shade gathered round 
Bobby's mouth, and he turned his face to the 
tent wall wearily. The Surgeon-Major frowned. 

"I'm awfully tired," said Bobby, very faintly. 
" What's the use of bothering me with medicine ? 
I don't want it. Let me alone." 

The desire for life had departed, and Bobby 
was content to drift away on the easy tide of 
Death. 

" It's no good," said the Surgeon-Major. " He 
doesn't want to live. He's meeting it, poor 
child." And he blew his nose. 

Half a mile away, the regimental band was 
playing the overture to the Sing-song, for the 
men had been told that Bobby was out of danger. 
The clash of the brass and the wail of the horns 
reached Bobby's ears. 

Is there a single joy or pain, 
That I should never kno ow ? 
You do not love me, 'tis in vain, 
Bid me good-bye and go ! 

An expression of hopeless irritation crossed the 
boy's face, and he tried to shake his head. 



Only a Subaltern 155 

The Surgeon-Major bent down "What is it? 
Bobby?" "Not that waltz," muttered Bobby. 
" That's our own our very ownest own. . . . 
Mummy dear." 

With this he sank into the stupor that gave 
place to death early next morning. 

Revere, his eyes red at the rims and his nose 
very white, went into Bobby's tent to write a let- 
ter to Papa Wick which should bow the white 
head of the ex-Commissioner of Chota-Buldana 
in the keenest sorrow of his life. Bobby's little 
store of papers lay in confusion on the table, 
and among them a half-finished letter. The last 
sentence ran: "So you see, darling, there is 
really no fear, because as long as I know you 
care for me and I care for you, nothing can touch 
me." 

Revere stayed in the tent for an hour. When 
he came out, his eyes were redder than ever. 



Private Conklin sat on a turned-down bucket, 
and listened to a not unfamiliar tune. Private 
Conklin was a convalescent and should have been 
tenderly treated. 

"Ho!" said Private Conklin. "There's an- 
other bloomin' orfcer da ed." 

The bucket shot from under him, and his eyes 
filled with a smithyful of sparks. A tall man in 



156 Only a Subaltern 

a blue-grey bedgown was regarding him with 
deep disfavor. 

"You ought to take shame for yourself, 
Conky! Orfcer? bloomin' orfcer? I'll learn 
you to misname the likes of 'im. Hangel! 
Bloomin' Hangel! That's wot 'e is! " 

And the Hospital Orderly was so satisfied with 
the justice of the punishment that he did not 
even order Private Dormer back to his cot. 



IN THE MATTER OF A PRIVATE 



IN THE MATTER OF A PRIVATE 

Hurrah ! hurrah ! a soldier's life for me ! 

Shout, boys, shout ! for it makes you jolly and free. 

The Ramrod Corps, 

F)EOPLE who have seen, say that one of the 
1 quaintest spectacles of human frailty is an 
outbreak of hysterics in a girls' school. It starts 
without warning, generally on a hot afternoon, 
among the elder pupils. A girl giggles till the 
giggle gets beyond control. Then she throws up 
her head, and cries, " Honk, honk, honk," like a 
wild goose, and tears mix with the laughter. If 
the mistress be wise, she will rap out something 
severe at this point to check matters. If she be 
tender-hearted, and send for a drink of water, 
the chances are largely in favor of another girl 
laughing at the afflicted one and herself collaps- 
ing. Thus the trouble spreads, and may end in 
half of what answers to the Lower Sixth of a 
boys' school rocking and whooping together. 
Given a week of warm weather, two stately 
promenades per diem, a heavy mutton and rice 
meal in the middle of the day, a certain amount 
of nagging from the teachers, and a few other 
159 



160 In the Matter of a Private 

things, some amazing effects develop. At least, 
this is what folk say who have had experience. 

Now, the Mother Superior of a Convent and 
the Colonel of a British Infantry Regiment would 
be justly shocked at any comparison being made 
between their respective charges. But it is a 
fact that, under certain circumstances, Thomas in 
bulk can be worked up into ditthering, rippling 
hysteria. He does not weep, but he shows his 
trouble unmistakably, and the consequences get 
into the newspapers, and all the good people who 
hardly know a Martini from a Snider say: 
"Take away the brute's ammunition!" 

Thomas isn't a brute, and his business, which 
is to look after the virtuous people, demands that 
he shall have his ammunition to his hand. He 
doesn't wear silk stockings, and he really ought 
to be supplied with a new Adjective to help him 
to express his opinions: but, for all that, he is a 
great man. If you call him " the heroic defender 
of the national honor" one day, and "a brutal 
and licentious soldiery " the next, you naturally 
bewilder him, and he looks upon you with sus- 
picion. There is nobody to speak for Thomas 
except people who have theories to work off on 
him; and nobody understands Thomas except 
Thomas, and he does not always know what is 
the matter with himself. 

That is the prologue. This is the story: 



In the Matter of a Private 161 

Corporal Slane was engaged to be married to 
Miss Jhansi M'Kenna, whose history is well 
known in the regiment and elsewhere. He had 
his Colonel's permission, and, being popular with 
the men, every arrangement had been made to 
give the wedding what Private Ortheris called 
" eeklar." It fell in the heart of the hot weather, 
and, after the wedding, Slane was going up to 
the Hills with the bride. None the less, Slane's 
grievance was that the affair would be only a 
hired-carriage wedding, and he felt that the 
"eeklar" of that was meagre. Miss M'Kenna 
did not care so much. The Sergeant's wife was 
helping her to make her wedding-dress, and she 
was very busy. Slane was, just then, the only 
moderately contented man in barracks. All the 
rest were more or less miserable. 

And they had so much to make them happy, 
too. All their work was over at eight in the 
morning, and for the rest of the day they could 
lie on their backs and smoke Canteen-plug and 
swear at the punkah-coolies. They enjoyed a 
fine, full flesh meal in the middle of the day, and 
then threw themselves down on their cots and 
sweated and slept till it was cool enough to go 
out with their " towny," whose vocabulary con- 
tained less than six hundred words, and the Ad- 
jective, and whose views on every conceivable 
question they had heard many times before. 



1 62 In the Matter of a Private 

There was the Canteen, of course, and there 
was the Temperance Room with the second-hand 
papers in it; but a man of any profession cannot 
read for eight hours a day in a temperature of 
96 or 98 in the shade, running up sometimes to 
103 at midnight. Very few men, even though 
they get a pannikin of flat, stale, muddy beer and 
hide it under their cots, can continue drinking for 
six hours a day. One man tried, but he died, 
and nearly the whole regiment went to his fu- 
neral because it gave them something to do. It 
was too early for the excitement of fever or 
cholera. The men could only wait and wait and 
wait, and watch the shadow of the barrack creep- 
ing across the blinding white dust. That was a 
gay life. 

They lounged about cantonments it was too 
hot for any sort of game, and almost too hot for 
vice and fuddled themselves in the evening, and 
filled themselves to distension'with the healthy 
nitrogenous food provided for them, and the 
more they stoked the less exercise they took and 
more explosive they grew. Then tempers began 
to wear away, and men fell a-brooding over in- 
sults real or imaginary, for they had nothing else 
to think of. The tone of the repartees changed, 
and instead of saying light-heartedly: "I'll 
knock your silly face in," men grew laboriously 
polite and hinted that the cantonments were not 



In the Matter of a Private 163 

big enough for themselves and their enemy, and 
that there would be more space for one of the 
two in another Place. 

It may have been the Devil who arranged the 
thing, but the fact of the case is that Losson had 
for a long time been worrying Simmons in an 
aimless way. It gave him occupation. The two 
had their cots side by side, and would sometimes 
spend a long afternoon swearing at each other; 
but Simmons was afraid of Losson and dared not 
challenge him to a fight. He thought over the 
words in the hot still nights, and half the hate he 
felt toward Losson he vented on the wretched 
punkah-coolie. 

Losson bought a parrot in the bazar, and put 
it into a little cage, and lowered the cage into the 
cool darkness of a well, and sat on the well-curb, 
shouting bad language down to the parrot. He 
taught it to say: "Simmons, ye so-oor," which 
means swine, and several other things entirely 
unfit for publication. He was a big gross man, 
and he shook like a jelly wheri the parrot had 
the sentence correctly. Simmons, however, 
shook with rage, for all the room were laughing 
at him the parrot was such a disreputable puff 
of green feathers and it looked so human when 
it chattered. Losson used to sit, swinging his 
fat legs, on the side of the cot, and ask the par- 
rot what it thought of Simmons. The parrot 



164 In the Matter of a Private 

would answer: " Simmons, ye so-oor." " Good 
boy," Losson used to say, scratching the parrot's 
head; "ye 'ear that, Sim ?" And Simmons used 
to turn over on his stomach and make answer: 
" I 'ear. Take 'eedyou don't 'ear something one 
of these days." 

In the restless nights, after he had been asleep 
all day, fits of blind rage came upon Simmons 
and held him till he trembled all over, while he 
thought in how many different ways he would 
slay Losson. Sometimes he would picture him- 
self trampling the life out of the man, with 
heavy ammunition-boots, and at others smashing 
in his face with the butt, and at others jumping 
on his shoulders and dragging the head back till 
the neckbone cracked. Then his mouth would 
feel hot and fevered, and he would reach out for 
another sup of the beer in the pannikin. 

But the fancy that came to him most frequently 
and stayed with him longest Was one connected 
with the great roll .of fat under Lesson's right 
ear. He noticed it first on a moonlight night, 
and thereafter it was always before his eyes. It 
was a fascinating roll of fat. A man could get 
his hand upon it and tear away one side of the 
neck; or he could place the muzzle of a rifle on 
it and blow away all the head in a flash. Losson 
had no right to be sleek and contented and well- 
to-do, when he, Simmons, was the butt of the 



In the Matter of a Private 165 

room. Some day, perhaps, he would show 
those who laughed at the "Simmons, yeso-oor" 
joke, that he was as good as the rest, and. held a 
man's life in the crook of his forefinger. When 
Losson snored, Simmons hated him more bitterly 
than ever. Why should Losson be able to sleep 
when Simmons had to stay awake hour after 
hour, tossing and turning on the tapes, with the 
dull liver pain gnawing into his right side and 
his head throbbing and aching after Canteen ? 
He thought over this for many many nights, and 
the world became unprofitable to him. He even 
blunted his naturally fine appetite with beer and 
tobacco; and all the while the parrot talked at 
and made a mock of him. 

The heat continued and the tempers wore 
away more quickly than before. A Sergeant's 
wife died of heat-apoplexy in the night, and the 
rumor ran abroad that it was cholera. Men re- 
joiced openly, hoping that it would spread and 
send them into camp. But that was a false 
alarm. 

It was late on a Tuesday evening, and the men 
were waiting in the deep double verandas for 
"Last Posts," when Simmons went to the box 
at the foot of his bed, took out his pipe, and 
slammed the lid down with a bang that echoed 
through the deserted barrack like the crack of a 
rifle. Ordinarily speaking, the men would have 



1 66 In the Matter of a Private 

taken no notice; but their nerves were fretted to 
fiddle-strings. They jumped up, and three or 
four clattered into the barrack-room only to find 
Simmons kneeling by his box. 

"Ow! It's you, is it?" they said and laughed 
foolishly. ' ' We thought 'twas " 

Simmons rose slowly. If the accident had so 
shaken his fellows, what would not the reality 
do? 

"You thought it was did you? And what 
makes you think ?" he said, lashing himself into 
madness as he went on; "to Hell with your 
thinking, ye dirty spies." 

"Simmons, ye so-oor, chuckled the parrot in 
the veranda, sleepily, recognizing a well-known 
voice. Now that was absolutely all. 

The tension snapped. Simmons fell back on 
the arm-rack deliberately, the men were at the 
far end of the room, and took out his rifle and 
packet of ammunition. "Don't go playing the 
goat, Sim!" said Losson. "Put it down," but 
there was a quaver in his voice. Another map 
stooped, slipped his boot and hurled it at Sim- 
mons's head. The prompt answer was a shot 
which, fired at random, found its billet in Los- 
son's throat. Losson fell forward without a 
word, and the others scattered. 

"You thought it was!" yelled Simmons. 
"You're drivin' me to it! I tell you you're 



In the Matter of a Private 167 

drivin' me to it! Get up, Losson, an' don't lie 
shammin' there you an' your blasted parrit that 
druv me to it!" 

But there was an unaffected reality about Los- 
son's pose that showed Simmons what he had 
done. The men were still clamoring in the ve- 
randa. Simmons appropriated two more packets 
of ammunition and ran into the moonlight, mut- 
tering: "I'll make a night of it. Thirty roun's, 
an' the last for myself. Take you that, you 
dogs!" 

He dropped on one knee and fired into the 
brown of the men on the veranda, but the bullet 
flew high, and landed in the brickwork with a 
vicious phwit that made some of the younger 
ones turn pale. It is, as musketry theorists ob- 
serve, one thing to fire and another to be fired at. 

Then the instinct of the chase flared up. The 
news spread from barrack to barrack, and the 
men doubled out intent on the capture of Sim- 
mons, the wild beast, who was heading for the 
Cavalry parade-ground, stopping now and again 
to send back a shot and a curse in the direction 
of his pursuers. 

"I'll learn you to spy on me!" he shouted; 
"I'll learn you to give me dorg's names! Come 
on the 'ole lot o' you! Colonel John Anthony 
Deever, C.B. !" he turned toward the Infantry 
Mess and shook his rifle "you think yourself 



1 68 In the Matter of a Private 

the devil of a man but I tell you that if you put 
your ugly old carcass outside o' that door, I'll 
make you the poorest-lookin' man in the army. 
Come* out, Colonel John Anthony Deever, C.B. ! 
Come out and see me practiss on the rainge. I'm 
the crack shot of the 'ole bloomjn' battalion." In 
proof of which statement Simmons fired at the 
lighted windows of the mess-house. 

"Private Simmons, E Comp'ny, on the Cav- 
alry p'rade-ground, Sir, with thirty rounds," said 
a Sergeant breathlessly to the Colonel. " Shootin' 
right and lef, Sir. Shot Private Losson. What's 
to be done, Sir?" 

Colonel John Anthony Deever, C.B., sallied 
out, only to be saluted by a spurt of dust at his 
feet. 

"Pull up! " said the Second in Command; "I 
don't want my step in that way, Colonel. He's 
as dangerous as a mad dog." 

"Shoot him like one, then," Said the Colonel, 
bitterly, "if he won't take his chance. My regi- 
ment, too! If it had been the Towheads I could 
have understood." 

Private Simmons had occupied a strong posi- 
tion near a well on the edge of the parade- 
ground, and was defying the regiment to come 
on. The regiment was not anxious to comply, 
for there is small honor in being shot by a fel- 
low-private. Only Corporal Slane, rifle in hand, 



In the Matter of a Private 169 

threw himself down on the ground, and wormed 
his way toward the well. 

" Don't shoot," said he to the men round him; 
"like as not you'll 'it me. I'll catch the beggar, 
livin'." 

Simmons ceased shouting for a while, and the 
noise of trap-wheels could be heard across the 
plain. Major Oidyne, Commanding the Horse 
Battery, was coming back from a dinner in the 
Civil Lines; was driving after his usual custom 
that is to say, as fast as the horse could go. 

"A orf'cer! A blooming spangled orfcer!" 
shrieked Simmons; "I'll make a scarecrow of 
that orf'cer! " The trap stopped. 

"What's this?" demanded the Major of Gun- 
ners. " You there, drop your rifle." 

" Why, it's Jerry Blazes! I ain't got no quarrel 
with you, Jerry Blazes. Pass frien', an' all's 
well!" 

But Jerry Blazes had not the faintest intention 
of passing a dangerous murderer. He was, as 
his adoring Battery swore long and fervently, 
without knowledge of fear, and they were surely 
the best judges, for Jerry Blazes, it was notori- 
ous, had done his possible to kill a man each 
time the Battery went out. 

He walked toward Simmons, with the inten- 
tion of rushing him, and knocking him down. 

"Don't make me do it, Sir," said Simmons; 



170 In the Matter of a Private 

" I ain't got nothing agin you. Ah ! you would ? " 
the Major broke into a run " Take that then! " 

The Major dropped with a bullet through his 
shoulder, and Simmons stood over him. He had 
lost the satisfaction of killing Losson in the de- 
sired way: but here was a helpless body to his 
hand. Should he slip in another cartridge, and 
blow off the head, or with the butt smash in the 
white faee ? He stopped to consider, and a cry 
went up from the far side of the parade-ground : 
" He's killed Jerry Blazes! " But in the shelter of 
the well-pillars Simmons was safe, except when 
he stepped out to fire. "I'll blow yer 'andsome 
'ead off, Jerry Blazes," said Simmons, reflectively. 
"Six an' three is nine an' one is ten, an' that 
leaves me another nineteen, an' one for myself." 
He tugged at the string of the second packet of 
ammunition. Corporal Slane crawled out of the 
shadow of a bank into the moonlight. 

"I see you!" said Simmons.' "Come a bit 
furder on an' I'll do for you." 

"I'm comin'," said Corporal Slane, briefly; 
"you've done a bad day's work, Sim. Come 
out 'ere an' come back with me." 

"Come to," laughed Simmons, sending a 
cartridge home with his thumb. "Not before 
I've settled you an' Jerry Blazes." 

The Corporal was lying at full length in the 
dust of the parade-ground, a rifle under him. 



In the Matter of a Private 171 

Some of the less-cautious men in the distance 
shouted: " Shoot 'im! Shoot 'im, Slane! " 

"You move 'and or foot, Slane," said Sim- 
mons, "an' I'll kick Jerry Blazes' 'ead in, and 
shoot you after." 

"I ain't movin'," said the Corporal, raising his 
head; "you daren't 'it a man on 'is legs. Let go 
o' Jerry Blazes an' come out o' that with your 
fistes. Come an' 'it me. You daren't, you 
bloomin' dog-shooter 1" 

"I dare." 

"You lie, you man-sticker. You sneakin', 
Sheeny butcher, you lie. See there!" Slane 
kicked the rifle away, and stood up in the peril 
of his life. "Come on, now!" 

The temptation was more than Simmons could 
resist, for the Corporal in his white clothes offered 
a perfect mark. 

" Don't misname me," shouted Simmons, fir- 
ing as he spoke. The shot missed, and the 
shooter, blind with rage, threw his rifle down 
and rushed at Slane from the protection of the 
well. Within striking distance, he kicked sav- 
agely at Slane's stomach, but the weedy Cor- 
poral knew something of Simmons's weakness, 
and knew, too, the deadly guard for that kick. 
Bowing forward and drawing up his right leg 
till the heel of the right foot was set some three 
inches above the inside of the left knee-cap, he 



172 In the Matter of a Private 

met the blow standing on one leg exactly as 
Gonds stand when they meditate and ready for 
the fall that would follow. There was an oath, 
the Corporal fell over to his own left as shinbone 
met shinbone, and the Private collapsed, his right 
leg broken an inch above the ankle. 

" 'Pity you don't know that guard, Sim," said 
Slane, spitting out the dust as he rose. Then 
raising his voice "Come an' take him orf. I've 
bruk 'is leg." This was not strictly true, for the 
Private had accomplished his own downfall, since 
it is the special merit of that leg-guard that the 
harder the kick the greater the kicker's discom- 
fiture. 

Slane walked to Jerry Blazes and hung over 
him with ostentatious anxiety, while Simmons, 
weeping with pain, was carried away. "'Ope 
you ain't 'urt badly, Sir," said Slane. The Major 
had fainted, and there was an ugly, ragged hole 
through the top of his arm. Slane knelt down 
and murmured: " S'elp me, I believe 'e's dead. 
Well, if that ain't my blooming luck all over!" 

But the Major was destined to lead his Battery 
afield for many a long day with unshaken nerve. 
He was removed, and nursed and petted into 
convalescence, while the Battery discussed the 
wisdom of capturing Simmons, and blowing 
him from a gun. They idolized their Major, 
and his reappearance on parade brought about 



In the Matter of a Private 173 

a scene nowhere provided for in the Army Reg- 
ulations. 

Great, too, was the glory that fell to Slane's 
share. The Gunners would have made him 
drunk thrice a day for at least a fortnight. Even 
the Colonel of his own regiment complimented 
him upon his coolness, and the local paper called 
him a hero. These things did not puff him up. 
When the Major offered him money and thanks, 
the virtuous Corporal took the one and put aside 
the other. But he had a request to make and 
prefaced it with many a "Beg y' pardon, Sir." 
Could the Major see his way to letting the Slane- 
M'Kenna wedding be adorned by the presence of 
four Battery horses to pull a hired barouche ? The 
Major could, and so could the Battery. Excess- 
ively so. It was a gorgeous wedding. 



"Wot did I do it for?" said Corporal Slane. 
" For the 'orses o' course. Jhansi ain't a beauty 
to look at, but I wasn't goin' to 'ave a hired turn- 
out. Jerry Blazes ? If I 'adn't 'a' wanted some- 
thing, Sim might ha' blowed Jerry Blazes' bloom- 
ing 'ead into Hirish stew for aught I'd 'a' cared." 

And they hanged Private Simmons hanged 
him as high as Haman in hollow square of the 
regiment; and the Colonel said it was Drink; and 
the Chaplain was sure it was the Devil; and Sim- 



174 / the Matter of a Private 

mons fancied it was both, but he didn't know, 
and only hoped his fate would be a warning to 
his companions; and half a dozen "intelligent 
publicists " wrote six beautiful leading articles on 
"The Prevalence of Crime in the Army." 

But not a soul thought of comparing the 
" bloody-minded Simmons " to the squawking, 
gaping schoolgirl with which this story opens. 



THE ENLIGHTENMENTS OF PAGETT, M. P. 



THE ENLIGHTENMENTS OF 
PAGETT, M.P. 

" Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the 
field ring with their importunate chink while thousands of 
great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, 
chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those 
who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field that, 
of course, they are many in number or that, after all, they are 
other than the little, shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud 
and troublesome insects of the hour." Burke: "Reflections 
on the Revolution in France." 



were sitting in the veranda of "the 
1 splendid palace of an Indian Pro-Consul"; 
surrounded by all the glory and mystery of the 
immemorial East. In plain English it was a one- 
storied, ten-roomed, whitewashed, mud-roofed 
bungalow, set in a dry garden of dusty tamarisk 
trees and divided from the read by a low mud 
wall. The green parrots screamed overhead as 
they flew in battalions to the river for their 
morning drink. Beyond the wall, clouds of fine 
dust showed where the cattle and goats of the 
city were passing afield to graze* The remorse- 
less white light of the winter sunshine of North- 
ern India lay upon everything and improved 
177 



178 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

nothing, from the whining Persian-wheel by the 
lawn-tennis court to the long perspective of level 
road and the blue, domed tombs of Mohammedan 
saints just visible above the trees. 

"A Happy New Year," said Orde to his guest. 
" It's the first you've ever spent out of England, 
isn't it?" 

"Yes. 'Happy New Year," said Pagett, smil- 
ing at the sunshine. "What a divine climate 
you have here! Just think of the brown cold fog 
hanging over London now! " And he rubbed his 
hands. 

It was more than twenty years since he had 
last seen Orde, his schoolmate, and their paths in 
the world had divided early. The one had quit- 
ted college to become a cog-wheel in the ma- 
chinery of the great Indian Government; the 
other, more blessed with goods, had been 
whirled into a similar position in the English 
scheme. Three successive elections had not af- 
fected Pagett's position with a loyal constitu- 
ency, and he had grown insensibly to regard 
himself in some sort as a pillar of the Empire, 
whose real worth would be known later on. 
After a few years of conscientious attendance at 
many divisions, after newspaper battles innu- 
merable and the publication of interminable cor- 
respondence, and more hasty oratory than in his 
calmer moments he cared to think upon, it 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 179 

occurred to him, as it had occurred to many of 
his fellows in Parliament, that a tour to India 
would enable him to sweep a larger lyre and ad- 
dress himself to the problems of Imperial ad- 
ministration with a firmer hand. Accepting, 
therefore, a general invitation extended to him 
by Orde some years before, Pagett had taken 
ship to Karachi, and only over-night had been 
received with joy by the Deputy-Commissioner 
of Amara. They had sat late, discussing the 
changes and chances of twenty years, recalling 
the names of the dead, and weighing the futures 
of the living, as is the custom of men meeting 
after intervals of action. 

Next morning they smoked the after breakfast 
pipe in the veranda, still regarding each other 
curiously, Pagett, in a light grey frock-coat and 
garments much too thin for the time of the year, 
and a puggried sun-hat carefully and wonder- 
fully made. Orde in a shooting coat, riding 
breeches, brown cowhide boots with spurs, and 
a battered flax helmet. He had ridden some 
miles in the early morning to inspect a doubtful 
river dam. The men's faces differed as much as 
their attire. Orde's worn and wrinkled about 
the eyes, and grizzled at the temples, was the 
harder and more square of the two, and it was 
with something like envy that the owner looked 
at the comfortable outlines of Pagett's blandly 



i8o The Enlightenments of Pagett, MR 

receptive countenance, the clear skin, the un- 
troubled eye, and the mobile, clean-shaved lips. 

"And this is India!" said Pagett for the twen- 
tieth time, staring long and intently at the grey 
feathering of the tamarisks. 

"One portion of India only. It's very much 
like this for 300 miles in every direction. By 
the way, now that you have rested a little I 
wouldn't ask the old question before what 
d'you think of the country ?" 

"Tis the most pervasive country that ever yet 
was seen. I acquired several pounds of your 
country coming up from Karachi. The air is 
heavy with it, and for miles and miles along that 
distressful eternity of rail there's no horizon to 
show where air and earth separate." 

" Yes. It isn't easy to see truly or far in India. 
But you had a decent passage out, hadn't you ?" 

"Very good on the whole. Your Anglo-In- 
dian may be unsympathetic about one's political 
views; but he has reduced ship life to a science." 

"The Anglo-Indian is a political orphan, and if 
he's wise he won't be in a hurry to be adopted 
by your party grandmothers. But how were 
your companions unsympathetic?" 

"Well, there was a man called Dawlishe, a 
judge somewhere in this country it seems, and a 
capital partner at whist by the way, and when I 
wanted to talk to him about the progress of India 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 181 

in a political sense (Orde hid a grin, which might 
or might not have been sympathetic), the National 
Congress movement, and other things in which, 
as a Member of Parliament, I'm of course in- 
terested, he shifted the subject, and when I once 
cornered him, he looked me calmly in the eye, 
and said: 'That's all Tommy Rot. Come and 
have a game at Bull.' You may laugh; but that 
isn't the way to treat a great and important 
question; and, knowing who I was, well, I 
thought it rather rude, don't you know; and yet 
Dawlishe is a thoroughly good fellow." 

"Yes; he's a friend of mine, and one of the 
straightest men I know. I suppose, like many 
Anglo-Indians, he felt it was hopeless to give 
you any just idea of any Indian question without 
the documents before you, and in this case the 
documents you want are the country and the 
people." 

" Precisely. That was why i came straight to 
you, bringing an open mind to bear on things. 
I'm anxious to know what popular feeling in 
India is really like y'know, now that it has 
wakened into political life. The National Con- 
gress, in spite of Dawlishe, must have caused 
great excitement among the masses ? " 

"On the contrary, nothing could be more 
tranquil than the state of popular feeling; and as 
to * v :itement, the people would as soon be ex- 



i8a The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

cited over the ' Rule of Three ' as over the Con- 
gress." 

"Excuse me, Orde, but do you think you are 
a fair judge? Isn't the official Anglo-Indian 
naturally jealous of any external influences that 
might move the masses, and so much opposed to 
liberal ideas, truly liberal ideas, that he can 
scarcely be expected to regard a popular move- 
ment with fairness ?" 

"What did Dawlishe say about Tommy Rot? 
Think a moment, old man. You and I were 
brought up together; taught by the same tutors, 
read the same books, lived the same life, and 
thought, as you may remember, in parallel lines. 
/ come out here, learn new languages, and work 
among new races; while you, more fortunate, 
remain at home. Why should I change my 
mind our mind because I change my sky? 
Why should I and the few hundred Englishmen 
in my service become unreasonable, prejudiced 
fossils, while you and your newer friends alone 
remain bright and open-minded? You surely 
don't fancy civilians are members of a Primrose 
League ? " 

"Of course not, but the mere position of an 
English official gives him a point of view which 
cannot but bias his mind on this question." 
Pagett moved his knee up and down a little un- 
easily as he spoke. 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 183 

" That sounds plausible enough, but, like more 
plausible notions on Indian matters, I believe it's 
a mistake. You'll find when you come to con- 
sult the unofficial Briton that our fault, as a class 
I speak of the civilian now is rather to mag- 
nify the progress that has been made toward 
liberal institutions. It is of English origin, such 
as it is, and the stress of our work since the 
Mutiny only thirty years ago has been in that 
direction. No, I think you will get no fairer or 
more dispassionate view of the Congress busi- 
ness than such men as I can give you. But I 
may as well say at once that those who know 
most of India, from the inside, are inclined to 
wonder at the noise our scarcely begun experi- 
ment makes in England." 

" But surely the gathering together of Congress 
delegates is of itself a new thing." 

"There's nothing new under the sun. When 
Europe was a jungle half Asia flocked to the 
canonical conferences of Buddhism; and for 
centuries the people have gathered at Puri, Hurd- 
war, Trimbak, and Benares in immense numbers. 
A great meeting, what you call a mass meeting, 
is really one of the oldest and most popular of 
Indian institutions. In the case of the Congress 
meetings, the only notable fact is that the priests 
of the altar are British, not Buddhist, Jain or 
Brahmanical, and that the whole thing is a British 



184 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

contrivance kept alive by the efforts of Messrs 
Hume, Eardley, Norton ; and Digby." 

"You mean to say, then, it's not a spontane- 
ous movement ? " 

"What movement was ever spontaneous in 
any true sense of the word ? This seems to be 
more factitious than usual. You seem to know 
a great deal about it; try it by the touchstone of 
subscriptions, a coarse but fairly trustworthy 
criterion, and there is scarcely the color of money 
in it. The delegates write from England that 
they are out of pocket for working expenses, 
raijway fares, and stationery the mere paste- 
board and scaffolding of their show. It is, in 
fact, collapsing from mere financial inanition." 

" But you cannot deny that the people of India, 
who are, perhaps, too poor to subscribe, are 
mentally and morally moved by the agitation," 
Pagett insisted. 

"That is precisely what I ^o'deny. The na- 
tive side of the movement is the- work of a 
limited class, a microscopic minority, as Lord 
Dufferin described it, when compared with the 
people proper, but still a very interesting class, 
seeing that it is of our own creation. It is com- 
posed almost entirely of those of the literary or 
clerkly castes who have received an English edu- 
cation." 

"Surely that's a very important class. Its 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 185 

members must be the ordained leaders of popular 
thought." 

"Anywhere else they might be leaders, but 
they have no social weight in this topsy-turvy 
land, and though they have been employed in 
clerical work for generations they have no prac- 
tical knowledge of affairs. A ship's clerk is a 
useful person, but he is scarcely the captain; and 
an orderly-room writer, however smart he may 
be, is not the colonel. You see, the writer class 
in India has never till now aspired to anything 
like command. It wasn't allowed to. The In- 
dian gentleman, for thousands of years past, has 
resembled Victor Hugo's noble : 

Un vrai sire 
Chatelain 
Laisse ecrire 
Le vilain. 
Sa main digne 
Quand il signe 
Egratigne 
Le velin.' 

And the little egratignures he most likes to make 
have been scored pretty deeply by the sword." 

" But this is childish and mediaeval non- 
sense! " 

" Precisely; and from your, or rather our, point 
of view the pen is mightier than the sword. In 
this country it's otherwise. The fault lies in our 



186 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

Indian balances, not yet adjusted to civilized 
weights and measures." 

"Well, at all events, this literary class represent 
the natural aspirations and wishes of the people 
at large, though it may not exactly lead them, 
and, in spite of all you say, Orde, I defy you to 
find a really sound English Radical who would 
not sympathize with those aspirations." 

Pagett spoke with some warmth, and he had 
scarcely ceased when a well-appointed dog-cart 
turned into the compound gates, and Orde rose 
saying: 

"Here is Edwards, the Master of the Lodge I 
neglect so diligently, come to talk about accounts, 
I suppose." 

As the vehicle drove up under the porch Pagett 
also rose, saying with the trained effusion born of 
much practice: 

" But this is also my friend, my old and valued 
friend Edwards. I'm delighted to see you. I 
knew you were in India, but not exactly where.'' 

"Then it isn't accounts, Mr. Edwards," said 
Orde, cheerily. 

" Why, no, sir ; I heard Mr. Pagett was coming, 
and as our works were closed for the New Year 
1 thought I would drive over and see him." 

"A very happy thought. Mr. Edwards, you 
may not know, Orde, was a leading member of 
our Radical Club at Switchton when 1 was be- 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 187 

ginning political life, and I owe much to his 
exertions. There's no pleasure like meeting an 
old friend, except, perhaps, making a new one. 
I suppose, Mr. Edwards, you stick to the good 
old cause ?*" 

"Well, you see, sir, things are different out 
here. There's precious little one can find to say 
against the Government, which was the main of 
our talk at home, and them that do say things are 
not the sort o' people a man who respects him- 
self would like to be mixed up with. There are 
no politics, in a manner of speaking, in India. 
It's all work." 

"Surely you are mistaken, my good friend. 
Why I have come all the way from England just to 
see the working of this great National movement." 

" I don't know where you're going to find the 
nation as moves to begin with, and then you'll 
be hard put to it to find what they are moving 
about. It's like this, sir," said Edwards, who had 
not quite relished being called " my good friend." 
"They haven't got any grievance nothing to hit 
with, don't you see, sir; and then there's not 
much to hit against, because the Government is 
more like a kind of general Providence, directing 
an old-established state of things, than that at 
borne, where there's something new thrown 
down for us to fight about every three months." 

"You are probably, in your workshops, full of 



1 88 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

English mechanics, out of the way of learning 
what the masses think." 

" I don't know so much about that. There are 
four of us English foremen, and between seven 
and eight hundred native fitters, smiths, car- 
penters, painters, and such like." 

"And they are full of the Congress, of 
course ? " 

"Never hear a word of it from year's end to 
year's end, and I speak the talk, too. But I 
wanted to ask how things are going on at home 
old Tyler and Brown and the rest?" 

"We will speak of them presently, but your 
account of the indifference of your men surprises 
me almost as much as your own. I fear you are 
a backslider from the good old doctrine, Edwards." 
Pagett spoke as one who mourned the death of a 
near relative. 

"Not a bit, sir, but I should be if I took up 
with a parcel of baboos, pleaders, and school- 
boys, as never did a day's work in their lives, 
and couldn't if they tried. And if you was to 
poll us English railway men, mechanics, trades- 
people, and the like of that all up and down the 
country from Peshawur to Calcutta, you would 
find us mostly in a tale together. And yet you 
know we're the same English you pay some 
respect to at home at 'lection time, and we have 
the pull o' knowing something about it." 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 189 

"This is very curious, but you will let me come 
and see you, and perhaps you will kindly show 
me the railway works, and we will talk things 
over at leisure. And about all old friends and 
old times," added Pagett, detecting with quick 
insight a look of disappointment in the mechanic's 
face. 

Nodding briefly to Orde, Edwards mounted his 
dog-cart and drove off. 

" It's very disappointing," said the Member to 
Orde, who, while his friend discoursed with 
Edwards, had been looking over a bundle of 
sketches drawn on grey paper in purple ink, 
brought to him by a Chuprassee. 

"Don't let it trouble you, old chap," said Orde, 
sympathetically. ' ' Look here a moment, here are 
some sketches by the man who made the carved 
wood screen you admired so much in the dining- 
room, and wanted a copy of, and the artist him- 
self is here too." 

"A native?" said Pagett. 

"Of course," was the reply, " Bishen Singh is 
his name, and he has two brothers to help him. 
When there is an important job to do, the three 
go into partnership, but they spend most of their 
time and all their money in litigation over an in- 
heritance, and I'm afraid they are getting involved. 
Thoroughbred Sikhs of the old rock, obstinate, 
touchy, bigoted, and cunning, but good men for 



190 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

all that. Here is Bishen Singh shall we ask him 
about the Congress ? " 

But Bishen Singh, who approached with a re- 
spectful salaam, has never heard of it, and he 
listened with a puzzled face and obviously feigned 
interest to Orde's account of its aims and objects, 
finally shaking his vast white turban with great 
significance when he learned that it was pro- 
moted by certain pleaders named by Orde, and 
by educated natives. He began with labored re- 
spect to explain how he was a poor man with 
no concern in such matters, which were all under 
the control of God, but presently broke out of 
Urdu into familiar Punjabi, the mere sound of 
which had a rustic smack of village smoke-reek 
and plough-tail, as he denounced the wearers of 
white coats, the jugglers with words who filched 
his field from him, the men whose backs were 
never bowed in honest work; and poured iron- 
ical scorn on the Bengali. He 'and one of his 
brothers had seen Calcutta, and being at work 
there had Bengali carpenters given to them as 
assistants. 

" Those carpenters ! " said Bishen Singh. ' ' Black 
apes were more efficient workmates, and as for 
the Bengali babu tchick!" The guttural click 
needed no interpretation, but Orde translated the 
rest, while Pagett gazed with interest at the 
wood-carver. 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 191 

" He seems to have a most illiberal prejudice 
against the Bengali," said the M.P. 

"Yes, it's very sad that for ages outside Bengal 
there should be so bitter a prejudice. Pride of 
race, which also means race-hatred, is the plague 
and curse of India and it spreads far," Orde 
pointed with his riding-whip to the large map 
of India on the veranda wall. 

"See! I begin with the North," said he. 
"There's the Afghan, and, as a highlander, he 
despises all the dwellers in Hindoostan with 
the exception of the Sikh, whom he hates as 
cordially as the Sikh hates him. The Hindu 
loathes Sikh and Afghan, and the Rajput that's 
a little lower down across this yellow blot of 
desert has a strong objection, to put it mildly, 
to the Maratha who, by the way, poisonously 
hates the Afghan. Let's go North a minute. 
The Sindhi hates everybody I've mentioned. 
Very good, we'll take less warlike races. The 
cultivator of Northern India domineers over the 
man in the next province, and the Behari of 
the Northwest ridicules the Bengali. They are 
all at one on that point. I'm giving you merely 
the roughest possible outlines of the facts, of 
course." 

Bishen Singh, his clean cut nostrils still quiver- 
ing, watched the large sweep of the whip as it 
traveled from the frontier, through Sindh, the 



192 The Enlightenments of Pageit, M.P. 

Punjab and Rajputana, till it rested by the valley 
of the Jumna. 

"Hate eternal and inextinguishable hate," con- 
cluded Orde, flicking the lash of the whip across 
the large map from East to West as he sat down. 
" Remember Canning's advice to Lord Granville, 
' Never write or speak of Indian things without 
looking at a map.' " 

Pagett opened his eyes, Orde resumed. "And 
the race-hatred is only a part of it. What's really 
the matter with Bishen Singh is class-hatred, 
which, unfortunately, is even more intense and 
more widely spread. That's one of the little 
drawbacks of caste, which some of your recent 
English writers find an impeccable system." 

The wood-carver was glad to be recalled to the 
business of his craft, and his eyes shone as he 
received instructions for a carved wooden door- 
way for Pagett, which he promised should be 
splendidly executed and despatched to England 
in six months. It is an irrelevant detail, but in 
spite of Orde's reminders, fourteen months elapsed 
before the work was finished. Business over, 
Bishen Singh hung about, reluctant to take his 
leave, and at last joining his hands and approach- 
ing Orde with bated breath and whispering 
humbleness, said he had a petition to make. 
Orde's face suddenly lost all trace of expression. 
" Speak on, Bishen Singh," said he, and the 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 193 

carver in a whining tone explained that his case 
against his brothers was fixed for hearing before 
a native judge and here he dropped his voice 
still lower till he was summarily stopped by 
Orde, who sternly pointed to the gate with an 
emphatic Begone! 

Bishen Singh, showing but little sign of dis- 
composure, salaamed respectfully to the friends 
and departed. 

Pagett looked inquiry; Orde with complete re- 
covery of his usual urbanity, replied: " It's noth- 
ing, only the old story, he wants his ca^e to be 
tried by an English judge they all do that but 
when he began to hint that the other side were 
in improper relations with the native judge I had 
to shut him up. Gunga Ram, the man he wanted 
to make insinuations about, may not be very 
bright; but he's as honest as daylight on the 
bench. But that's just what one can't get a na- 
tive to believe." 

" Do you really mean to say these people pre- 
fer to have their cases tried by English judges ? " 

"Why, certainly." 

Pagett drew a long breath. "I didn't know 
that before." At this point a phaeton entered the 
compound, and Orde rose with " Confound it, 
there's old Rasul Ali Khan come to pay one of 
his tiresome duty calls. I'm afraid we shall never 
get through our little Congress discussion." 



194 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

Pagett was an almost silent spectator of the 
grave formalities of a visit paid by a punctilious 
old Mahommedan gentleman to an Indian official; 
and was much impressed by the distinction of 
manner and fine appearance of the Mohammedan . 
landholder. When the exchange of polite banal- 
ities came to a pause, he expressed a wish to 
learn the courtly visitor's opinion of the National 
Congress. 

Orde reluctantly interpreted, and with a smile 
which even Mohammedan politeness could not 
save from bitter scorn, Rasul Ali Khan intimated 
that he knew nothing about it and cared still less. 
It was a kind of talk encouraged by the Govern- 
ment for some mysterious purpose of its own, 
and for his own part he wondered and held his 
peace. 

Pagget was far from satisfied with this, and 
wished to have the old gentleman's opinion on 
the propriety of managing all Indian affairs on 
the basis of an elective system. 

Orde did his best to explain, but it was plain 
the visitor was bored and bewildered. Frankly, 
he didn't think much of committees; they had a 
Municipal Committee at Lahore and had elected 
a menial servant, an orderly, as a member. He 
had been informed of this on good authority, 
and after that, committees had ceased to interest 
him. But all was according to the rule of Gov- 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 195 

ernment, and, please God, it was all for the 
best. 

"What an old fossil it is!" cried Pagett, as 
Orde returned from seeing his guest to the door; 
"just like some old blue-blooded hidalgo of 
Spain. What does he really think of the Con- 
gress after all, and of the elective system ?" 

" Hates it all like poison. When you are sure 
of a majority, election is a fine system; but you 
can scarcely expect the Mahommedans, the most 
masterful and powerful minority in the country, 
to contemplate their own extinction with joy. 
The worst of it is that he and his co-religionists, 
who are many, and the landed proprietors, also, 
of Hindu race, are frightened and put out by this 
election business and by the importance we have 
bestowed on lawyers, pleaders, writers, and the 
like, who have, up to now, been in abject sub- 
mission to them. They say little, but after all 
they are the most important fagots in the great 
bundle of communities, and all the glib bunkum 
in the world would not pay for their estrange- 
ment. They have controlled the land/' 

"But I am assured that experience of local 
self-government in your municipalities has been 
most satisfactory, and when once the principle is 
accepted in your centres, don't you know, it is 
bound to spread, and these important ah'm 
people of yours would learn it like the rest. I 



196 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

see no difficulty at all," and the smooth lips 
closed with the complacent snap habitual to 
Pagett, M.P., the "man of cheerful yesterdays 
and confident to-morrows." 

Orde looked at him with a dreary smile. 

" The privilege of election has been most 
reluctantly withdrawn from scores of municipali- 
ties, others have had to be summarily suppressed, 
and, outside the Presidency towns, the actual 
work done has been badly performed. This is 
of less moment, perhaps it only sends up the 
local death-rates than the fact that the public 
interest in municipal elections, never very strong, 
has waned, and is waning, in spite of careful 
nursing on the part of Government servants." 

"Can you explain this lack of interest ?" said 
Pagett, putting aside the rest of Orde's remarks. 

"You may find a ward of the key in the fact 
that only one in every thousand of our population 
can spell. Then they are infinitely more inter- 
ested in religion and caste questions than in any 
sort of politics. When the business of mere ex- 
istence is over, their minds are occupied by a 
series of interests, pleasures, rituals, superstitions, 
and the like, based on centuries of tradition and 
usage. You, perhaps, find it hard to conceive of 
people absolutely devoid of curiosity, to whom 
the book, the daily paper, and the printed speech 
are unknown, and you would describe their life as 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 197 

blank. That's a profound mistake. You are in 
another land, another century, down on the bed- 
rock of society, where the family merely, and 
not the community, is all-important. The aver- 
age Oriental cannot be brought to look beyond 
his clan. His life, too, is more complete and 
self-sufficing, and less sordid and low-thoughted 
than you might imagine. It is bovine and slow 
in some respects, but it is never empty. You 
and I are inclined to put the cart before the horse, 
and to forget that it is the man that is elemental, 
not the book. 

' The corn and the cattle are all my care, 
And the rest is the will of God.' 

Why should such folk look up from their im- 
memorially appointed .round of duty and inter- 
ests to meddle with the unknown and fuss with 
voting-papers. How would you, atop of all 
your interests care to conduct even one-tenth of 
your life according to the manners and customs 
of the Papuans, let's say ? That's what it comes 
to." 

"But if they won't take the trouble to vote, 
why do you anticipate that Mohammedans, pro- 
prietors, and the rest would be crushed by ma- 
jorities of them ? " 

Again Pagett disregarded the closing sentence. 

"Because, though the landholders would not 



198 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

move a finger on any purely political question, 
they could be raised in dangerous excitement by 
religious hatreds. Already the first note of this 
has been sounded by the people who are trying 
to get up an agitation on the cow-killing question, 
and every year there is trouble over the Moham- 
medan Muharrum processions." 

" But who looks after the popular rights, being 
thus unrepresented?" 

"The Government of Her Majesty the Queen, 
Empress of India, in which, if the Congress pro- 
moters are to be believed, the people have an im- 
plicit trust; for the Congress circular, specially 
prepared for rustic comprehension, says the 
movement is 'for the remission of tax, the ad- 
vancement of Hindustan, and the strengthening 
of the British Government. ' This paper is headed 
in large letters ' MAY THE PROSPERITY OF THE EM- 
PRESS OF INDIA ENDURE.' " 

"Really!" said Pagett, "that shows some 
cleverness. But there are things better worth 
imitation in our English methods of er political 
statement than this sort of amiable fraud." 

" Anyhow," resumed Orde, "you perceive that 
not a word is said about elections and the elec- 
tive principle, and the reticence of the Congress 
promoters here shows they are wise in their gen- 
eration." 

"But the elective principle must triumph in 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 199 

the end, and the little difficulties you seem to an- 
ticipate would give way on the introduction of a 
well-balanced scheme, capable of indefinite ex- 
tension." 

"But is it possible to devise a scheme which, 
always assuming that the people took any inter- 
est in it, without enormous expense, ruinous 
dislocation of the administration and danger to 
the public peace, can satisfy the aspirations of 
Mr. Hume and his following, and yet safeguard 
the interests of the Mahommedans, the landed 
and wealthy classes, the Conservative Hindus, 
the Eurasians, Parsees, Sikhs, Rajputs, native 
Christians, domiciled Europeans and others, who 
are each important and powerful in their way ?" 

Pagett's attention, however, was diverted to 
the gate, where a group of cultivators stood in 
apparent hesitation. 

" Here are the twelve Apostles, by Jove! come 
straight out of Raffaele's cartoons," said the M. 
P., with the fresh appreciation of a newcomer. 

Orde, loth to be interrupted, turned impatiently 
toward the villagers, and their leader, handing 
his long staff to one of his companions, advanced 
to the house. 

"It is old Jelloo, the Lumberdar, or head-man 
of Pind Sharkot, and a very intelligent man for a 
villager." 

The Jat farmer had removed his shoes and stood 



2OO The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

smiling on the edge of the veranda. His strongly 
marked features glowed with russet bronze, and 
his bright eyes gleamed under deeply set brows, 
contracted by lifelong exposure to sunshine. 
His beard and moustache streaked with grey 
swept from bold cliffs of brow and cheek in the 
large sweeps one sees drawn by Michael Angelo, 
and strands of long black hair mingled with the 
irregularly piled wreaths and folds of his turban. 
The drapery of stout blue cotton cloth thrown 
over his broad shoulders and girt round his nar- 
row loins, hung from his tall form in broadly 
sculptured folds, and he would have made a su- 
perb model for an artist in search of a patriarch. 

Orde greeted him cordially, and after a polite 
pause the countryman started off with a long 
story told with impressive earnestness. Orde 
listened and smiled, interrupting the speaker at 
times to argue and reason with him in a tone 
which Pagett could hear was kindly, and finally 
checking the flux of words was about to dismiss 
him, when Pagett suggested that he should be 
asked about the National Congress. 

But Jelloo had never heard of it. He was a 
poor man and such things, by the favor of his 
Honor, did not concern him. 

" What's the matter with your big friend that 
he was so terribly in earnest?" asked Pagett, 
when he had left. 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 201 

"Nothing much. He wants the blood of the 
people in the next village, who have had small- 
pox and cattle plague pretty badly, and by the 
help of a wizard, a currier, and several pigs have 
passed it on to his own village. 'Wants to know 
if they can't be -run in for this awful crime. It 
seems they made a dreadful charivari at the vil- 
lage boundary, threw a quantity of spell-bearing 
objects over the border, a buffalo's skull and 
other things ; then branded a chamdr what you 
would call a currier on his hinder parts and 
drove him and a number of pigs over into Jelloo's 
village. Jelloo says he can bring evidence to 
prove that the wizard directing these proceedings, 
who is a Sansi, has been guilty of theft, arson, 
cattle-killing, perjury and murder, but would 
prefer to have him punished for bewitching them 
and inflicting smallpox." 

" And how on earth did you answer such a 
lunatic?" 

"Lunatic! the old fellow is as sane as you or 
I; and he has some ground of complaint against 
those Sansis. ' asked if he would like a native 
superintendent oi police with some men to make 
inquiries, but he objected on the grounds the po- 
lice were rather worse than smallpox and crim- 
inal tribes put together." 

"Criminal tribes er I don't quite under- 
stand," said Pagett. 



2O2 The Enlightenments of Pagetl, M.P. 

" We have in India many tribes of people who 
in the slack anti-British days became robbers, in 
various kind, and preyed on the people. They 
are being restrained and reclaimed little by little, 
and in time will become useful citizens, but they 
still cherish hereditary traditions of crime, and 
are a difficult lot to deal with. By the way what 
about the political rights of these folk under your 
schemes ? The country people call them vermin, 
but I suppose they would be electors with the 
rest." 

"Nonsense special provision would be made 
for them in a well-considered electoral scheme, 
and they would doubtless be treated with fitting 
severity," said Pagett, with a magisterial air. 

" Severity, yes but whether it would be fitting 
is doubtful. Even those poor devils have rights, 
and, after all, they only practice what they have 
been taught." 

"But criminals, Orde!" 

"Yes, criminals with codes and rituals of 
crime, gods and godlings of crime, and a hun- 
dred songs and sayings in praise of it. Puzzling, 
isn't it?" 

"It's simply dreadful. They ought to be put 
down at once. Are there many of them ?" 

"Not more than about sixty thousand in this 
province, for many of the tribes broadly described 
as criminal are really vagabond and criminal only 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 20} 

on occasion, while others are being settled and 
reclaimed. They are of great antiquity, a legacy 
from the past, the golden, glorious Aryan past of 
Max Miiller, Birdwood and the rest of your spin- 
drift philosophers." 

An orderly brought a card to Orde, who took 
it with a movement of irritation at the interrup- 
tion, and handed it to Pagett; a large card with a 
ruled border in red ink, and in the centre in 
schoolboy copper plate, Mr. Dina Nath. " Give 
salaam," said the civilian, and there entered in 
haste a slender youth, clad in a closely fitting 
coat of grey homespun, tight trousers, patent- 
leather shoes, and a small black velvet cap. His 
thin cheek twitched, and his eyes wandered rest- 
lessly, for the young man was evidently nervous 
and uncomfortable, though striving to assume a 
free and easy air. 

"Your honor may perhaps remember me," he 
said in English, and Orde scanned him keenly. 

"I know your face somehow. You belonged 
to the Shershah district I think, when I was in 
charge there?" 

"Yes, sir, my father is writer at Shershah, and 
your honor gave me a prize when 1 was first in 
the Middle School examination five years ago. 
Since then I have prosecuted my studies, and I 
am now second year's student in the Mission 
College/' 



2O4 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

"Of course: you are Kedar Nath's son the 
boy who said he liked geography better than play 
or sugar cakes, and I didn't believe you. How is 
your father getting on ? " 

"He is well, and he sends his salaam, but his 
circumstances are depressed, and he also is down 
on his luck." 

" You learn English idioms at the Mission Col- 
lege, it seems." 

"Yes, sir, they are the best idioms, and my 
father ordered me to ask your honor to say a 
word for him to the present incumbent of your 
honor's shoes, the latchet of which he is not 
worthy to open, and-who knows not Joseph; for 
things are different at Shershah now, and my fa- 
ther wants promotion." 

"Your father is a good man, and I will do 
what I can for him." 

At this point a telegram was handed to Orde, 
who, after glancing at it, said he must leave his 
young friend whom he introduced to Pagett, " a 
member of the English House of Commons who 
wishes to learn about India." 

Orde had scarcely retired with his telegram 
when Pagett began : 

" Perhaps you can tell me something of the 
National Congress movement?" 

"Sir, it is the greatest movement of modern 
times, and one in which all educated men like us 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 205 

must join. All our students are for the Con- 
gress." 

"Excepting, I suppose, Mahommedans, and 
the Christians ? " said Pagett, quick to use his re- 
cent instruction. 

".These are some mere exceptions to the uni- 
versal rule." 

" But the people outside the College, the work- 
ing classes, the agriculturists; your father and 
mother, for instance." 

"My mother," said the young man, with a 
visible effort to bring himself to pronounce the 
word, "has no ideas, and my father is not agri- 
culturist, nor working class; he is of the Kayeth 
caste ; but he had not the advantage of a colle- 
giate education, and he does not know much of 
the Congress. It is a movement for the educated 
young-man " connecting adjective and noun in 
a sort of vocal hyphen. 

"Ah, yes," said Pagett, feeling he was a little 
off the rails, "and what are the benefits you ex- 
pect to gain by it ? " 

"Oh, sir, everything. England owes its great- 
ness to Parliamentary institutions, and we should 
at once gain the same high position in scale of 
nations. Sir, we wish to have the sciences, the 
arts, the manufactures, the industrial factories, 
with steam engines, and other motive powers, 
and public meetings, and debates. Already we 



206 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

have a debating club in connection with the col- 
lege, and elect a Mr. Speaker. Sir, the progress 
must come. You also are a Member of Parlia- 
ment and worship the great Lord Ripon," said 
the youth, breathlessly, and his black eyes flashed 
as he finished his commaless sentences. 

"Well," said Pagett, drily, "it has not yet oc- 
curred to me to worship his Lordship, although 
I believe he is a very worthy man, and I am not 
sure that England owes quite all the things you 
name to the House of Commons. You see, my 
young friend, the growth of a nation like ours is 
slow, subject to many influences, and if you have 
read your history aright " 

"Sir, I know it all all! Norman Conquest, 
Magna Charta, Runnymede, Reformation, Tu- 
dors, Stuarts, Mr. Milton and Mr. Burke, and I 
have read something of Mr. Herbert Spencer and 
Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall,' Reynolds' 'Myste- 
ries of the Court,' and" 

Pagett felt like one who had pulled the string 
of a shower-bath unawares, and hastened to stop 
the torrent with a question as to what particular 
grievances of the people of India the attention 
of an elected assembly should be first directed. 
But young Mr. Dina Nath was slow to particular- 
ize. There were many, very many demanding 
consideration. Mr. Pagett would like to hear of 
one or two typical examples. The Repeal of the 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 207 

Arms Act was at last named, and the student 
learned for the first time that a license was nec- 
essary before an Englishman could carry a gun 
in England. Then natives of India ought to be 
allowed to become Volunteer Riflemen if they 
chose, and the absolute equality of the Oriental 
with his European fellow-subject in civil status 
should be proclaimed on principle, and the Indian 
Army should be considerably reduced. The stu- 
dent was not, however, prepared with answers 
to Mr. Pagett's mildest questions on these points, 
and he returned to vague generalities, leaving the 
M.P. so much impressed with the crudity of his 
views that he was glad on Orde's return to say 
good-bye to his "very interesting " young friend. 
" What do you think of young India ? " asked 
Orde. 

" Curious, very curious and callow." 
"And yet," the civilian replied, "one can 
scarcely help sympathizing with him for his 
mere youth's sake. The young orators of the 
Oxford Union arrived at the same conclusions 
and showed doubtless just the same enthusiasm. 
If there were any political analogy between India 
and England, if the thousand races of this Empire 
were one, if there were any chance even of their 
learning to speak one language, if, in short, India 
were a Utopia of the debating-room, and not a 
real land, this kind of talk might be worth listen- 



2o8 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

ing to, but it is all based on false analogy and 
ignorance of the facts." 

" But he is a native and knows the facts." 

"He is a sort of English schoolboy, but mar- 
ried three years, and the father of two weaklings, 
and knows less than most English schoolboys. 
You saw all he is and knows, and such ideas as 
he has acquired are directly hostile to the most 
cherished convictions of the vast majority of the 
people." 

" But what does he mean by saying he is a 
student of a mission college. Is he a Christian ? " 

" He meant just what he said, and he is not a 
Christian, nor ever will he be. Good people in 
America, Scotland, and England, most of whom 
would never dream of collegiate education for 
their own sons, are pinching themselves to bestow 
it in pure waste on Indian youths. Their scheme 
is an oblique, subterranean attack on heathenism ; 
the theory being that with the jam of secular edu- 
cation, leading to a University degree, the pill of 
moral or religious instruction may be coaxed 
down the heathen gullet." 

"But does it succeed; do they make con- 
verts ? " 

"They make no converts, for the subtle 
Oriental swallows the jam and rejects the pill; 
but the mere example of the sober, righteous, 
and godly lives of the principals and professors, 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 209 

who are most excellent and devoted men, must 
have a certain moral value. Yet, as Lord Lans- 
downe pointed out the other day, the market is 
dangerously overstocked with graduates of our 
Universities who look for employment in the ad- 
ministration. An immense number are employed, 
but year by year the college mills grind out in- 
creasing lists of youths foredoomed to failure and 
disappointment, and meanwhile, trade, manu- 
factures, and the industrial arts are neglected, and 
in fact regarded with contempt by our new 
literary mandarins in posse." 

" But our young friend said he wanted steam- 
engines and factories," said Pagett. 

"Yes, he would like to direct such concerns. 
He wants to begin at the top, for manual labor is 
held to be discreditable, and he would never 
defile his hands by the apprenticeship which the 
architects, engineers, and manufacturers of Eng- 
land cheerfully undergo; and he would be aghast 
to learn that the leading names of industrial 
enterprise in England belonged a generation or 
two since, or now belong, to men who wrought 
with their own hands. And, though he talks 
glibly of manufacturers, he refuses to see that 
the Indian manufacturer of the future will be the 
despised workman of the present. It was pro- 
posed, for example, a few weeks ago, that a 
certain municipality in this province should 



2io The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

establish an elementary technical school for the 
sons of workmen. The stress of the opposition 
to the plan came from a pleader who owed all he 
had to a college education bestowed on him 
gratis by Government and missions. You would 
have fancied some fine old crusted Tory squire of 
the last generation was speaking. ' These peo- 
ple,' he said, 'want no education, for they learn 
their trades from their fathers, and to teach a 
workman's son the elements of mathematics and 
physical science would give him ideas above his 
business. They must be kept in their place, and 
it was idle to imagine that there was any science 
in wood or iron work.' And he carried his point. 
But the Indian workman will rise in the social 
scale in spite of the new literary caste." 

" In England we have scarcely begun to realize 
that there is an industrial class in this country, 
yet, I suppose, the example of men, like Edwards 
for instance, must tell," said Pagett, thought- 
fully. 

"That you shouldn't know much about it is 
natural enough, for there are but few sources of 
information. India in this, as in other respects, 
is like a badly kept ledger not written up to 
date. And men like Edwards are, in reality, 
missionaries, who by precept and example are 
teaching more lessons than they know. Only a 
few, however, of their crowds of subordinates 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 211 

seem to care to try to emulate them, and aim at 
individual advancement; the rest drop into the 
ancient Indian caste groove." 

" How do you mean ?" asked Pagett. 

"Well, it is found that the new railway and 
factory workmen, the fitter, the smith, the en- 
gine-driver, and the rest are already forming 
separate hereditary castes. You. may notice this 
down at Jamalpur in Bengal, one of the oldest 
railway centres ; and at other places, and in other 
industries, they are following the same inexor- 
able Indian law." 

" Which means ? " queried Pagett. 

"It means that the rooted habit of the people 
is to gather in small self-contained, self-sufficing 
family groups with no thought or care for any 
interests but their own a habit which is scarcely 
compatible with the right acceptation of the elec- 
tive principle." 

"Yet you must admit, Orde, that though our 
young friend was not able to expound the faith 
that is in him, your Indian army is too big." 

"Not nearly big enough for its main purpose. 
And, as a side issue, there are certain powerful 
minorities of fighting folk whose interests an 
Asiatic Government is bound to consider. 
Arms is as much a means of livelihood as civil 
employ under Government and law. And it 
would be a heavy strain on British bavonets to 



212 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

hold down Sikhs, Jats, Bilochis, Rohillas, Raj- 
puts, Bhils, Dogras, Pathans, and Gurkhas to 
abide by the decisions of a numerical majority 
opposed to their interests. Leave the ' numerical 
majority ' to itself without the British bayonets 
a flock of sheep might as reasonably hope to 
manage a troop of collies." 

"This complaint about excessive growth of 
the army is akin to another contention of the 
Congress party. They protest against the mal- 
versation of the whole of the moneys raised by 
additional taxes as a Famine Insurance Fund to 
other purposes. You must be aware that this 
special Famine Fund has all been spent on fron- 
tier roads and defences and strategic railway 
schemes as a protection against Russia." 

"But there was never a special famine fund 
raised by special taxation and put by as in a box. 
No sane administrator would dream of such a 
thing. In a time of prosperity a finance minis- 
ter, rejoicing in a margin, proposed to annually 
apply a million and a half to the construction of 
railways and canals for the protection of districts 
liable to scarcity, and to the reduction of the an- 
nual loans for public works. But times were 
not always prosperous, and the finance minister 
had to choose whether he would hang up the in- 
surance scheme for a year or impose fresh taxa- 
tion. When a farmer hasn't got the little sur- 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 213 

plus he hoped to have for buying a new wagon 
and draining a low-lying field corner, you don't 
accuse him of malversation, if he spends what 
he has on the necessary work of the rest of his 
farm." 

A clatter of hoofs was heard, and Orde looked 
up with vexation, but his brow cleared as a 
horseman halted under the porch. 

"Hello, Orde! just looked in to ask if you are 
coming to polo on Tuesday: we want you badly 
to help to crumple up the Krab Bokhar team." 

Orde explained that he had to go out into the 
District, and while the visitor complained that 
though good men wouldn't play, duffers were 
always keen, and that his side would probably 
be beaten, Pagett rose to look at his mount, a 
red, lathered Biloch mare, with a curious lyre- 
like incurving of the ears. " Quite a little thor- 
oughbred in all other respects," said the M.P., 
and Orde presented Mr. Reginald Burke, Man- 
ager of the Sind and Sialkote Bank to his friend. 

" Yes, she's as good as they make 'em, and 
she's all the female I possess and spoiled in con- 
sequence, aren't you, old girl?" said Burke, 
patting the mare's glossy neck as she backed 
and plunged. 

" Mr. Pagett," said Orde, " has been asking me 
about the Congress. What is your opinion?" 
Burke turned to the M.P. with a frank smile. 



214 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

"Well, if it's all the same to you, sir, I should 
say, Damn the Congress, but then I'm no politi- 
cian, but only a business man." 

" You find it a tiresome subject ?" 

" Yes, it's all that, and worse than that, for this 
kind of agitation is anything but wholesome for 
the country." 

" How do you mean ?" 

"It would be a long job to explain, and Sara 
here won't stand, but you know how sensitive 
capital is, and how timid investors are. All this 
sort of rot is likely to frighten them, and we 
can't afford to frighten them. The passengers 
aboard an Ocean steamer don't feel reassured 
when the ship's way is stopped, and they hear 
the workmen's hammers tinkering at the en- 
gines down below. The old Ark's going on all 
right as she is, and only wants quiet and room 
to move. Them's my sentiments, and those of 
some other people who have to do with money 
and business." 

"Then you are a thick-and-thin supporter of 
the Government as it is." 

"Why, no! The Indian Government is much 
too timid with its money like an old maiden 
aunt of mine always in a funk about her in- 
vestments. They don't spend half enough on 
railways for instance, and they are slow in a 
general way, and ought to be made to sit up in 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 215 

all that concerns the encouragement of private 
enterprise, and coaxing out into use the millions 
of capital that lie dormant in the country." 

The mare was dancing with impatience, and 
Burke was evidently anxious to be off, so the 
men wished him good-bye. 

"Who is your genial friend who condemns 
both Congress and Government in a breath?" 
asked Pagett, with an amused smile. 

"Just now he is Reggie Burke, keener on polo 
than on anything else, but if you go to the Sind 
and Sialkote Bank to-morrow you would find 
Mr. Reginald Burke a very capable man of busi- 
ness, known and liked by an immense constitu- 
ency North and South of this." 

5 'Do you think he is right about the Govern- 
ment's want of enterprise ? " 

" I should hesitate to say. Better consult the 
merchants and chambers of commerce in Cawn- 
pore, Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta. But though 
these bodies would like, as Reggie puts it, to 
make Government sit up, it is an elementary con- 
sideration in governing a country like India, which 
must be administered for the benefit of the people 
at large, that the counsels of those who resort to 
it for the sake of making money should be ju- 
diciously weighed and not allowed to overpower 
the rest. They are welcome, guests here, as a 
matter of course, but it has been found best to 



216 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M,P. 

restrain their influence. Thus the rights of plan- 
tation laborers, factory operatives, and the like, 
have been protected, and the capitalist, eager to 
get on, has not always regarded Government 
action with favor. It is quite conceivable that 
under an elective system the commercial com- 
munities of the great towns might find means to 
secure majorities on labor questions and on fi- 
nancial matters." 

"They would act at least with intelligence and 
consideration." 

"Intelligence, yes; but as to consideration, 
who at the present moment most bitterly resents 
the tender solicitude of Lancashire for the wel- 
fare and protection of the Indian factory oper- 
ative ? English and native capitalists running 
cotton mills and factories." 

"But is the solicitude of Lancashire in this 
matter entirely disinterested ? " 

"It is no business of mine to say. I merely 
indicate an example of how a powerful commer- 
cial interest might hamper a Government intent 
in the first place on the larger interests of hu- 
manity." 

Orde broke off to listen a moment. "There's 
Dr. Lathrop talking to my wife in the drawing- 
room," said he. 

"Surely not; that's a lady's voice, and if my 
ears don't deceive me, an American." 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 317 

" Exactly, Dr. Eva McCreery Lathrop, chief of 
the new Women's Hospital here, and a very 
good fellow forbye. Good-morning, Doctor," 
he said, as a graceful figure came out on the ve- 
randa, "you seem to be in trouble. I hope Mrs. 
Orde was able to help you." 

"Your wife is real kind and good, I always 
come to her when I'm in a fix, but I fear it's 
more than comforting I want." 

"You work too hard and wear yourself out," 
said Orde, kindly. " Let me introduce my friend, 
Mr. Pagett, just fresh from home, and anxious to 
learn his India. You could tell him something of 
that more important half of which a mere man 
knows so little." 

" Perhaps I could if I'd any heart to do it, but 
I'm in trouble, I've lost a case, a case that was 
doing well, through nothing in the world but in- 
attention on the part of a nurse I had begun to 
trust. And when I spoke only a small piece of 
my mind she collapsed in a whining heap on the 
floor. It is hopeless! " 

The men were silent, for the blue eyes of the 
lady doctor were dim. Recovering herself she 
looked up with a smile, half sad, half humorous, 
"And I am in a whining heap, too; but what 
phase of Indian life are you particularly interested 
in, sir?" 

' ' Mr. Pagett intends to study the political as- 



218 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

pect of things and the possibility of bestowing 
electoral institutions on the people." 

"Wouldn't it be as much to the purpose to 
bestow point-lace collars on them ? They need 
many things more urgently than votes. Why 
it's like giving a bread-pill for a broken leg." 

"Er I don't quite follow," said Pagett, un- 
easily. 

"Well, what's the matter with this country is 
not in the least political, but an all round entan- 
glement of physical, social, and moral evils and 
corruptions, all more or less due to the unnatural 
treatment of women. You can't gather figs from 
thistles, and so long as the system of infant mar- 
riage, the prohibition of the remarriage of wid- 
ows, the lifelong imprisonment of wives and 
mothers in a worse than penal confinement, and 
the withholding from them of any kind of edu- 
cation or treatment as rational beings continues, 
the country can't advance a step. Half of it is 
morally dead, and worse than dead, and that's 
just the half from which we have a right to look 
for the best impulses. It's right here where the 
trouble is, and not in any political considerations 
whatsoever." 

"But do they marry so early?" said Pagett, 
vaguely. 

"The average age is seven, but thousands are 
married still earlier. One result is that girls of 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 219 

twelve and thirteen have to bear the burden of 
wifehood and motherhood, and, as might be ex- 
pected, the rate of mortality both for mothers 
and children is terrible. Pauperism, domestic 
unhappiness, and a low state of health are only a 
few of the consequences of this. Then, when, 
as frequently happens, the boy-husband dies 
prematurely, his widow is condemned to worse 
than death. She may not re-marry, must live a 
secluded and despised life, a life so unnatural, 
that she sometimes prefers suicide ; more often 
she goes astray. You don't know in England 
what such words as ' infant-marriage, baby-wife, 
girl-mother, and virgin-widow ' mean ; but they 
mean unspeakable horrors here." 

"Well, but the advanced political party here 
will surely make it their business to advocate 
social reforms as well as political ones," said 
Pagett. 

"Very surely they will do no such thing, "said 
the lady doctor, emphatically. "I wish I could 
make you understand. Why, even of the funds 
devoted to the Marchioness of Dufferin's organi- 
zation for medical aid to the women of India, it 
was said in print and in speech, that they would 
be better spent on more college scholarships for 
men. And in all the advanced parties' talk God 
forgive them and in all their programmes, they 
carefully avoid all such subjects. They will talk 



22O The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

about the protection of the cow, for that's an an- 
cient superstition they can all understand that; 
but the protection of the women is a new and 
dangerous idea." She turned to Pagett impul- 
sively : 

" You are a member of the English Parliament. 
Can you do nothing ? The foundations of their 
life are rotten utterly and bestially rotten. I 
could tell your wife things that I couldn't tell 
you. I know the life the inner life that belongs 
to the native, and I know nothing else; and be- 
lieve me you might as well try to grow golden- 
rod in a mushroom-pit as to make anything of a 
people that are born and reared as these these 
things are. The men talk of their rights and 
privileges. I have seen the women that bear 
these very men, and again may God forgive the 
men!" 

Pagett's eyes opened with a large wonder. Dr. 
Lathrop rose tempestuously. 

"I must be off to lecture," said she, "and I'm 
sorry that I can't show you my hospitals; but 
you had -better believe, sir, that it's more neces- 
sary for India than all the elections in creation." 

"That's a woman with a mission, and no mis- 
take," said Pagett, after a pause. 

"Yes; she believes in her work, and so do I," 
said Orde. " I've a notion that in the end it will 
be found that the most helpful work done for 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 22\ 

India in this generation was wrought by Lady 
DufTerin in drawing attention what work that 
was, by the way, even with her husband's great 
name to back it! to the needs of women here. 
In effect, native habits and beliefs are an organ- 
ized conspiracy against the laws of health and 
happy life but there is some dawning of hope 
now." 

" How d' you account for the general indiffer- 
ence, then ? " 

" I suppose it's due in part to their fatalism and 
their utter indifference to all human suffering. 
How much do you imagine the great province of 
the Punjab with over twenty million people and 
half a score rich towns has contributed to the 
maintenance of civil dispensaries last year? 
About seven thousand rupees." 

"That's seven hundred pounds," said Pagett, 
quickly. 

"I wish it was," replied Orde; "but anyway, 
it's an absurdly inadequate sum, and shows one 
of the blank sides of Oriental character." 

Pagett was silent for a long time. The ques- 
tion of direct and personal pain did not lie within 
his researches. He preferred to discuss the 
weightier matters of the law, and contented him- 
self with murmuring: "They'll do better later 
on." Then, with a rush, returning to his first 
thought : 



222 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

" But, my dear Orde, if it's merely a class 
movement of a local and temporary character, 
how d' you account for Bradlaugh, who is at 
least a man of sense, taking it up ?" 

" I know nothing of the champion of the New 
Brahmins but what 1 see in the papers. I sup- 
pose there is something tempting in being hailed 
by a large assemblage as the representative of 
the aspirations of two hundred and fifty millions 
of people. Such a man looks 'through all the 
roaring and the wreaths,' and does not reflect 
that it is a false perspective, which, as a matter 
of fact, hides the real complex and manifold 
India from his gaze. He can scarcely be ex- 
pected to distinguish between the ambitions of 
a new oligarchy and the real wants of the people 
of whom he knows nothing. But it's strange 
that a professed Radical should come to be the 
chosen advocate of a movement which has for 
its aim the revival of an ancient tyranny. Shows 
how even Radicalism can fall into academic 
grooves and miss the essential truths of its own 
creed. Believe me, Pagett, to deal with India 
you want first-hand knowledge and experience. 
I wish he would come and live here for a couple 
of years or so." 

"Is not this Father an ad hominem style of 
argument ? " 

"Can't help it in a case like this. Indeed, I am 



The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 223 

not sure you ought not to go further and weigh 
the whole character and quality and upbringing 
of the man. You must admit that the monu- 
mental complacency with which he trotted out 
his ingenious little Constitution for India showed 
a strange want of imagination and the sense of 
humor." 

"No, I don't quite admit it," said Pagett. 

"Well, you know him and I don't, but that's 
how it .strikes a stranger." He turned on his heel 
and paced the veranda thoughtfully. "And, 
after all, the burden of the actual, daily unroman- 
tic toil falls on the shoulders of the men out here, 
and not on his own. He enjoys all the privileges 
of recommendation without responsibility, and 
we well, perhaps, when you've seen a little 
more of India you'll understand. To begin with, 
our death rate's five times higher than yours I 
speak now for the brutal bureaucrat and we 
work on the refuse of worked-out cities and ex- 
hausted civilizations, among the bones of the 
dead." 

Pagett laughed. " That's an epigrammatic way 
of putting it, Orde." 

"Is it? Let's see," said the Deputy Commis- 
sioner of Amara, striding into the sunshine 
toward a half-naked gardener potting roses. He 
took the man's hoe, and went to a rain-scarped 
bank at the bottom of the garden. 



224 The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. 

"Come here, Pagett," he said, and cut at the 
sun-baked soil. After three strokes there rolled 
from under the blade of the hoe the half of a 
clanking skeleton that settled at Pagett's feet in 
an unseemly jumble of bones. The M.P. drew 
back. 

"Our houses are built on cemeteries," said 
Orde. "There are scores of thousands of graves 
within ten miles." 

Pagett was contemplating the skull with the 
awed fascination of a man who has but little to 
do with the dead. " India's a very curious place," 
said he, after a pause. 

"Ah? You'll know all about it in three 
months, Come in to lunch," said Orde. 



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